Brooklyn (2015) - John Crowley
John Crowley's Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman, who decides to leave behind her sister and mother in Ireland for the allure of America. Arriving in New York City, Eilis finds it hard to adapt to her new climate, shackled by homesickness and a bit of grief for leaving her sister and mother behind. That all changes when she meets Tony, an Italian immigrant, who sweeps Eilis off her feet with his kindness and dedication, instilling in Eilis a sense that she has finally found a home in America. When tragedy strikes at home, Eilis' past comes back into the picture, threatening to derail everything she has built in America. John Crowley's Brooklyn is a crowd-pleasing, romantic drama that starts strong, but unfortunately withers under the own weight of its dramatic storytelling intentions in the back-half of the film. The first half of Brooklyn offers a poignant portrait of a young woman attempting to step out on her own, capturing the isolation and loneliness that enraptured immigrants stepping into America for the first time. Coming from a small town where everyone knows you to the hustle-and-bustle of New York City is a jarring experience, and Brooklyn captures it well, showing the coldness of New York City from the perspective of its main protagonist. The period setting is well rendered, the characterizations are solid, and the romance which unfolds between Eilis & Tony is tender, sweet, and made me depressed, considering my own shortcomings in the romance department (Yes, this is a complement to the film). There romance feels organic, real, and the chemistry between both Saiusrse Ronan & Emory Cohen is apparent early on. One thing that really surprised me about Brooklyn is just how funny the film is, with a steady stream of laughs throughout its running time that do a good job in the first half of the film of keeping everything even-keeled, considering much of the film early on is centered around Eilis struggle to adapt to her new life. Aforementioned, Brooklyn's back-half, where she goes back to Ireland and flirts with the idea of making her home there, feels contrived, simply there to provide increased drama to what was developing into a nice story of a woman finding her independence and finding her own true sense of home. Its hard to explain without going into detail that I'd rather not spoil, but even though the back half felt forced, compared to the first half feeling very organic, Brooklyn is a film that still works, thanks to its two romantic leads, in particularly newcomer Emory Cohen who really steals the film. While Brooklyn lets its story force its main protagonist in directions that just don't feel genuine, this film is a guaranteed crowd-pleasure which balances poignant drama, romance, and comedy very well.
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