HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:82
They say home is where the heart is, but I’ve found it increasingly difficult to distinguish where my heart really wants to be when I get older, and I’ve only lived in a few places over the U.S. during my time on Earth. I can’t imagine what it must be for someone to uproot themselves from their nation of origin and travel hundreds, nay thousands of miles in order to make a better life for themselves in a completely foreign country. However back in the day the Irish came over to New York by the boatloads trying to do just that. In fact, there were so many Irish and Italian immigrants coming through Ellis Island that it was joked about that there wasn’t a construction worker in the city who didn’t come from those two nations and not a cop in Brooklyn who wasn’t red headed. “Brooklyn” is adapted from the novel of the same name and chronicles the journey for Eilis, one such Irish girl who just wants to get out of the downtrodden economy of Ireland at the time and make something of herself. It’s simple, VERY simple, but incredibly sweet and the simplicity of the script actually works in the films favor, as the low key unfolding of the girl’s troubles and tribulations in her work as well as her love life is refreshing from the constant barrage of overly complex romances that make you want to bang your head against a wall.
Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is a young Irish girl living in Enniscorthy, Ireland, but only JUST getting by due to the rather poor economy of Ireland at the time. She works for the local busybody and shop owner, Miss Kelly (Brid Brennan), but only can give her part time. Her sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott) works as a book keeper in town and the two take care of their aging mother (played by Jane Brennan). Eilis is about to change all this though, being that Rose has been able to set her up with some contacts in America where she will be heading off to. The good old Catholic guilt from Miss Kelly is hot and heavy, setting up the sense of desperation and dread that is to follow by berating Eilis for leaving and informing her that now Rose is stuck in her life, having to care for their aging mother until she dies. Refusing to let Miss Kelly ruin Eilis’ chance for a better life, Rose encourages the girl even further and sets her on her way to New York.
Eilis is set up monetarily when she arrives due to Roses contacts, and lives in a boarding house for girls run by the strict, but kind, Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Waters). Not only that she has gotten employment at a local department store, where Eilis has to struggle to overcome her shy personality in order to sell cosmetics. While she’s set up in the financial sense, Eilis is a hot mess internally, broken up and destroyed by the overwhelming sense of homesickness that she can’t seem to come out of. That is until she meets an Italian boy named Tony (Emory Cohen) who sweeps her off her feet in a rather low key manner. Eilis is not a frivolous girl, unlike the others in the boarding school, and not one to be swept away by a wink and a smile. However, Tony is not like that. Quiet, sincere, kind and unassuming the boy pursues her with an awkward sincerity that brings a smile to your face and certainly does to Eilis. Soon the too fall in love and are getting serious when Eilis receives a letter that Rose has died of a mysterious disease. Before running back to Ireland, Rose and Tony get hitched at the court house and off she runs back to Ireland.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67634[/img]Coming back to Enniscorthy is like a breath of fresh air for Eilis and her homesickness that she thought she had squashed comes back full force. It doesn’t help when everyone around her is getting married and pushing her towards the handsome Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson) who has taken an interest in Eilis. Almost fearful of telling the people around her that she is married, Eilis starts to slowly re-integrate herself back into the little Irish town and soon the decision to go back to New York is so difficult that it’s unbearable to even think about. That is until one blast form the past brings that choice to in a manner that must make Eilis choose WHERE home really is.
“Brooklyn” is a very quiet and laid back movie, and seems like it actually comes from a different generation of film making. So many movie today are a bustle of energy and excitement, just filled to the brim with conflicts and conundrums that turn romances into a whirlwind of excitement that won’t let up (despite the fact that their relationship is usually only about a day or so long and they’re soooooooooooooooooo in love!). “Brooklyn”, on the other hand, takes its time getting into the romantic liaison between Eilis and Tony, instead focusing on watching Eilis adapt to her new surrounds and even when they DO start going down that road the focus continues to be on Eilis and her adapting to New York City life. There is no real hiccup in their relationship except for when Eilis is confronted with her own past back in Ireland.
I was rather worried about how they were going to handle the return to Ireland when I read up on the situation. She’s a married woman going back home for a funeral, only to be enticed by her old home and the handsome rich Irish gentleman who takes a fancy to her. It reeked of cheap theatrics and the old “the heart wants what the heart wants” superficiality from first glance. Instead I was incredibly surprised to see Eilis handle the entire situation realistically and very fulfilling by the time the credits role. There is not stupid romantic issues where she wants both men, and sleeps with both only to come to her sense. Instead director John Crowley focuses on Eilis’s home sickness and the struggle she goes through coming to grips with just WHERE home was. The movie is simple, yet incredibly sweet and alluring, making you truly root for the two lovers.
The lack of complexity and stupid modern societal relationship foibles was direct take from the novel and one that was definitely kept unmolested for the screen adaptation. Even the Irish town of Enniscorthy (where the author was from) was used for the film to create authenticity, as well as hiring natively Irish actors to play the parts (although I did chuckle as seeing Emily Bett Rickards who plays Felicity Smoake on “Arrow” make an appearance at the Boarding house). In short, it’s an adorably sweet and non-cloying romance that just WORKS in a very hectic modern day.
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality and brief strong language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67642[/img]“Brooklyn” comes to Blu-ray with a wonderful looking 1.85:1 AVC encoded transfer that really shines across the board. The film is heavily romanticized both in story as well as visual appeal, opening up the film with a rather grey and misty looking tone that shifts to a more natural color grading as the film progresses. Certain parts of the movie have some brilliant white levels that goes into the blooming category to give a sort of halo effect to the sequences (the biggest one being the Ellis Island sequence where the whites are so bright as to almost simulate a heavenly glow). At those moments and a few bits on board the transatlantic flight I noticed some softness due to a green screen effect (especially the water), but overall the fine detail is simply superb. “Brooklyn” is not color graded but the primary colors tend to be HEAVILY saturated and seem to pop off the screen at any given time, especially in Brooklyn. Eilis’ green overcoat is brilliant in its contrast to the greyish stone of Brooklyn and the cars whizzing by just seem to stand off the screen with sharp blues and yellows and reds. Her lipstick stands out the most and highlights the pale Irish face behind it, making her all the more adorable. Black levels are consistent and story (except in those few moments where the blooming whites take other).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67650[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is exactly what one would expect from a romantic drama like “Brooklyn”. It doesn’t have the complexity and overwhelming intensity of an action film or other more immersive style of film, but it does exactly what it asked of it and is extremely effective on the smaller scale that its niche is. The dialog is the mainstay of the track and every word, whether it be in a heavy Brooklyn accent, and Irish one or even the thick Italian ones that Tony and his immigrant family speak in are perfectly intelligible at all times. There is quite a bit of ambiance in the big city as well as the country town that Eilis grew up in overseas, and they all integrate nicely into the surround channels in a more subdued and soft fashion. LFE punctuates certain scenes with a little oomph, otherwise it comes in to accentuate the melodic score that flows throughout the track. It’s a simple track, but a very effective one that brings the film to life.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=67658[/img]• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Promotional Featurettes
- The Story
- The Making of "Brooklyn"
- Book to Screen
• Audio Commentary with Director John Crowley
Simply put, “Brooklyn” was one of the bigger surprises that I’ve viewed in the last 6 months or so. I had heard nothing about it prior to the press release and was instantly intrigued to see Saoirse Ronan in an adult role. Sweet, laid back and entirely heartwarming in a non-cloying sort of way, “Brooklyn” is a fantastic love story that can appeal to both men and women equally with its simple storytelling. The set pieces and locations are sumptuous and visually stimulating and the specs on the Blu-ray make it almost “reach through the screen and touch it” worthy. Definitely worth a watch.
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson
Directed by: John Crowley
Written by: Nick Hornsby (Screenplay), Colm Tóibín (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Turkish DD 5.1, Russian DTS 5.1
Runtime: 112 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 22nd 2016
Buy Brooklyn On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Definite Watch
More about Mike