By Brooke Schmidt
Many Oscar-nominated films often have an underlying agenda. They want something from you, whether it’s money or emotional investment. “Brooklyn,” however, is not one of those films.
The film is an honest tale of a girl uprooted from her home in search of a better life, where she finds friendship and love, only to be taken back home due to tragedy. But that’s just the basic plot. As a viewer, I found myself instantly enthralled from the moment the first scene began until the final credits rolled.
Unlike many high concept films, “Brooklyn” is a simple story. Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis (pronounced Ay-lish), a young woman who leaves her beloved sister and mother in Ireland so she can search for prosperity in America. As the name of the film suggests, she winds up in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she must deal with events entirely out of her comfort zone. While the story eventually becomes romantic after the introduction of Emory Cohen’s character, Tony, Eilis is the main focus. Even when she must choose between two men, she is really choosing between two homes — the one she’s made in America and the one in Ireland where she was born.
Now that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated “Brooklyn” for best picture and Ronan as best actress in a leading role, more people are becoming aware of the movie. Months earlier, “Brooklyn” was an indie film not many people knew of that opened at Sundance Film Festival. Yet, the film offers so much more than people give it credit for.
The wardrobe and production design are flawless, outfitting both the cast and the scenes with period-accurate beauty. The cinematography is equally as beautiful — it’s a true joy to look at — and that further emphasizes the romance. Whether it’s the romantic nature of the time or the romantic elements of the story, the cinematography and overall design really emphasize this quality.
“I never would have thought I’d get as emotionally invested in (‘Brooklyn’) as I was, but I got more than a little choked up,” Matt Atchity, editor-in-chief of Rotten Tomatoes, wrote in his review. “And I found myself, in the third act of that movie, getting really anxious, and then I realized I was really invested and really worried about the choices that Saoirse’s character was going to make.”
Like Atchity, I found myself cheering and yelling and crying over the film. Viewers can’t help but to root Eilis on throughout every point of the film, including when she finally leaves Ireland and gets a new job in America. The connection that the audience develops with Eilis makes the scenes when she’s presented with difficulty gripping. Eilis is such a sweet girl and as an audience, we experience her triumphs and tribulations with her. This intimacy creates a bond between protagonist and audience. Seeing her succeed makes it feel as if you have succeeded as well, and that’s a beautiful and necessary relationship in a film.
While there is little chance “Brooklyn” will win any of the Oscars for which it was nominated, it is a beautiful film that deserves to be seen by the masses. It’s worth it just to watch Ronan’s incredible performance, if not to see the beautiful cinematography. Ronan fits the role like a glove and it is truly a sight to see.