Brooklyn Review

Last Exit to Ireland.

Brooklyn (2015): 4 out of 10. For such a gentle passive costume drama about a 1950’s emigrant from Ireland, Brooklyn evoked a surprising amount of ire; (as opposed to Eire). First off I am surprised that Saoirse Ronan was nominated for an Oscar in this role. She isn’t a bad actress by any means but her character is so passive, banal, and inconsistent that it is hard to get a read on the performance.

Leaving aside the main character for a minute the film has a few other issues. While the interiors are filmed well, the exteriors (Particularly the ones that are supposed to be in Brooklyn) seem out of a made for PBS movie from the mid-eighties rather than a modern film. One-half expects Raul Julia to pop up in at any moment doing a riff on Casablanca. The remaining characters, with one notable exception doing her best Margaret Hamilton impression, are played as very nice people. Almost too nice. It is as if a Mary Sue convention let out next door. All the characters also only seem to exist to help, enable, and be nice to our heroine. They rarely seem to have lives of their own.

Our heroine, by any measure, is a horrible self-centered person. I am unsure if the film even realizes this. Ronan plays her as a passive-aggressive social wallflower yet the script seems to have written her as a predatory self-centered narcissist. As a result, we have a character asking a man to walk her home not because she is interested but so she can abandon a new young immigrant girl she finds disagreeable. (The film mind you gives us no reason to find this ancillary character disagreeable which makes her declaration even more jarring.)

Ronan’s character then proceeds to tell bigger lies and inflict even greater cruelties on her loved ones and those whose only crime is being nice to her. Yet the film seems strangely oblivious to its protagonist’s cruelty. A wisp of a film only promoted by a surprise Oscar nomination and a veneer of a decent date night film. It disappoints on almost all levels.

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