Let me go ahead and admit that I went into Brooklyn fiercely cynical due to various other films being snubbed by the Academy Awards. Was John Crowley’s Brooklyn really one of the best films of 2015? Much like my viewing of The Imitation Game about this time last year, I realized all of Brooklyn fit into its two minute trailer, and a Best Picture shouldn’t be able to be summarized in two minutes. There’s no spoilers here – an Irish girl (Eilis, played by Saoirse Ronan) sets sail to America, she gets in (!), she has a job and lives in a boarding house, but she’s homesick. But there’s a priest who’s nice to her, and a boy (Emory Cohen) who’s nice to her even though he’s not Irish, he just likes Irish girls. They fall in love and he has an annoyingly cute little brother. Someone dies, she goes back to Ireland, Domhnall Gleeson dances. And really, that’s the film. It’s a love story, through and through.
Ronan plays the part well (again, being cynical – is it Best Actress good?), and the supporting cast is full of oddly familiar faces, including Jessica Paré (can she only do period pieces?). It’s pretty but oh so melodramatic, with musical flourishes and an entrance to the United States you’ll have to see to believe, or get a glimpse of in the trailer of course. Granted, the telling the tale of immigrating to America is crucial, and I would never say otherwise. Sure, moments in Brooklyn tugged my Irish heritage heartstrings. I longed for something tougher though, a story with a girl not well off enough to travel to and from Ireland, who didn’t have, all things considered, a smooth transition, who struggled in romantic endeavors rather than falling into them.
Unfortunately, while this department-store-girl-starring love story set in 1950’s New York is the talk of awards season, other beloved films of the year were overlooked – even another department-store-girl-starring love story set in 1950’s New York, Carol. Choosing between the two? Watch Carol.