Thursday, November 19, 2015


As I've written before, my response to a movie often depends on my expectations going into it. Usually if I have high expectations, I'm at least a little disappointed, and vice versa. I'd read the Colm Toibin novel before seeing the new movie adapted from it and liked the writing but felt vaguely disappointed when I finished it. So I expected the same from the movie.

But Saoirse Ronan is a revelation, giving an award-winning performance delicately calibrated from scene to scene to display her character's blossoming from a timid girl to a confident woman in just two hours. And that elevates BROOKLYN the movie to a work of art, in my opinion.

Because it's set in the 1950s, a time that stands out in my memory and on which I've written a lot, and it's about "my people" the Irish (of course all people are my people, but I feel I'm more of an expert on the Irish), I was also expecting to be disappointed in the way the Irish in the movie were portrayed, as is too often the case.

But having been written by a native Irish writer and having the lead character played by an Irish actress, her character and much of the story resonates with a rare authenticity not always seen in "American" movies and TV shows about the Irish and Irish-Americans (like THE DEPARTED and RAY DONOVAN for instance). Though I will say there's a classic kind of Irish caustic humor that except for moments from Ronan's character late in the film is mostly missing in BROOKLYN, making the Irish seem terribly dour, unlike most I've known for my more than seven decades.

The costumes and period touches (it's set in the early 1950s) are pretty authentic too, according to my memories except, as always happens with 20th century period pieces, the cars are way too clean and perfect, especially the ones that would have been several years old at the time, and there aren't any beat-up, older cars, as of course there always has been and still are.

The theater I saw BROOKLYN in has a big bulletin board where audience members can voice their opinion and grade each film. BROOKLYN had raves and A's and A+'s, except for one commenter who gave it a C, objecting to the way the leading Italian-American was portrayed in the movie. I felt their pain. But I think the others were correct. Well worth seeing.


VANITAS said...

I have been wanting to see this film. After reading your post, I'm definitely going to! Thanks Michael.

Lally said...

you;re welcome and hope you enjoy it as much as I did

tpw said...

Excellent take on a fantastic film. It's hard not fall in love with the beautiful Bronx-born Saoirse Ronan. I haven't been so enchanted by a movie character in a long time. As to your lack of an Irish edge---are you forgetting all the slagging among the boarding house girls and their mother superior? I was dazzled, I admit. Cried twice.

Lally said...

good points terence...and I didn't realize who the landlady was until the credits...