Brooklyn is Rich
Brooklyn is exactly the kind of UK film that makes me swoon. The combination of drama, scenery, acting, and music always seems tempered against sensation–unlike so many US films. In UK films, as with Brooklyn, there’s usually the scope of history and some perspective to dwell upon, and the pace and tone are restrained and somber enough to remind you that past communication was done mostly through letters, and dockside goodbyes implied years (at least) of separation.
In the early 1950s, a young Irish woman leaves for New York and lands in an Irish enclave in Brooklyn. The clothes, cars and conventions of the day are a thrill to see, but the real thrill is to watch a reserved girl become a more worldly and confident woman—which is not to say that she has it easy. At one point in the story, she finds her heart stretched across the Atlantic.
The acting job by Saoirse (sear-sha) Rowan as Ellis Lacey is going to land her some deserving attention. I also predict that we will we much more of Emory Cohen, who plays her American-Italian amour (Tony).
Strong themes are plenty for the discriminating moviegoer. We feel alongside Ellis as she weighs the familiar against the future: clan and culture versus adventure and romance. We also watch and feel as she measures family love against romantic love, expectations against promises.
Brooklyn is not made into a spectacle by sex, violence or obvious special effects—and it doesn’t need to be. What’s more it is better for the lack of them. My criticism of Hollywood (the big studios) today is that in the course of trying to make money, they often forget to tell a good story. Instead, they insist on gimmicks to sell trailers, leaving movie-goers feeling deceived and cheated instead of enriched and inspired. Perhaps the difference I suggest is the result of films like this getting more public funding. The British Film Industry will budget about $45 million for films in 2016. That doesn’t make a lot of blockbusters, but it would help make a quite a few movies like Brooklyn and it allows the filmmakers to tell their stories; it allows the artists to make their Art.