Brooklyn (2015)

(On Cable TV, July 2016) “Slightly less dull than I expected” isn’t exactly the kind of blurb that’s reprinted on DVD boxes, but that’s probably the nicest thing I have to say about Brooklyn. The story of an Irish girl who comes to America to find love and fortune, then returns home and is confronted with either staying or leaving, Brooklyn is thoroughly familiar material, albeit executed with some degree of competence. There’s a decent amount of wistfulness to the protagonist’s final realization that she has grown up, and the production values of the film are high enough to convincingly plunge us into 1950s New York and Ireland. Saoirse Ronan is very good as the protagonist, with Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson playing romantic foils. What Brooklyn doesn’t have (nor may need) is energy, originality or even sustained wit: it seems perfectly content playing things safe, with polished but forgettable dialogue, scenes and emotional stakes. It does aspire to be the kind of movie that your grandmother will find “nice”, so I suppose that there’s no real reason to begrudge its success if it manages exactly that. At another time in cinema’s history, Brooklyn would have been a significant studio release, a star vehicle, a popular film and a critical hit. In today’s blockbuster driven environment, it’s merely a good solid independent film that got some critical attention. No shame, no shame. Plus, it is indeed slightly less dull than I expected.

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