Plot: What’s it about?
Set in the early 1950’s and based on the novel by Colm Toibin. The film begins with a young Irish woman being very optimistic about her upcoming move to New York. The young woman is Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) and is accompanied on her move by her older sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott). The move is a bit hard on her at first, but eventually she develops a romance with a man named Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen). Things look promising for a while until she receives troubling news from Ireland. This puts her at something of a crossroads as she needs to make a decision on where to take her life.
Brooklyn generated some Oscar buzz, but I fail to see what all the fuss is about. It’s not a bad film, mind you. It’s just not a particularly interesting or exciting one. There are countless scenes of the characters sitting around the dinner table offering Eilis advice or critiquing her. The pace is deliberate much of the time without a sense of urgency. That isn’t to say the film is without redeeming qualities. For one, it nicely recreates the 1950’s and the acting is universally solid, even if there’s nothing extraordinary about any of it. And that’s really all I can say about Brooklyn. I never cared much for any of the characters and the central story just isn’t intriguing enough to maintain interest. Chalk the film up as a mild disappointment.
Video: How’s it look?
Say what you will, but I’ve found that over the last decade my tastes have changed when it’s come to how movies are shown. I’m speaking strictly of the aspect ratio. I don’t know why, but back in the time of 4:3 tube televisions, I loved 2.35:1 films as I felt like I was really getting the whole picture (and, in truth, I was). But with HDTV’s and their 16:9 aspect ratios, I now long for the Academy “flat” or “standard” ratio as it fills up the entire screen. I mention this because Brooklyn is a beautifully-shot film that really does look gorgeous on screen. Yes, there are some stylized effects that perhaps give a bit of bloom to the whites (almost like a dream sequence) and some of the pastel-candy colored scenes are something that Hollywood loves, but by and large it epitomizes what Blu-ray is all about.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Granted, the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack doesn’t have a lot of chances to flex its muscle, but the somewhat subdued track does have a few moments. Vocals, Irish as they may be, come across the channels as crisp and clear. I found it a wee bit difficult (did you catch that Irish-esque reference?) to understand what the actors were saying sometimes, but I suppose that’s a testament to the authenticity of the performance(s). There are a few moments in which the surrounds take control, the rain in the background and the like. Still, by and large, it’s a very understated track that is a perfect compliment to the film itself.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director John Crowley gives a pretty decent and informative track. Admittedly I wasn’t looking too forward to it as it started out slow. Some commentaries, when done right, really bring the entire movie/disc up to a higher level. I won’t say that this is one of them, but I found it pretty interesting nonetheless.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – Eleven scenes totaling nearly ten minutes’ worth with optional commentary by Crowley.
- Promotional Featurettes – None of these are too robust, and the longest runs only a tad over four minutes, still it’s nice to have these included.
- The Story – A look at the story as a whole with some interviews with the cast, crew and director.
Home – A look at the motherland – Ireland.
Love – The theme of the film and how it played a part in the overall film itself.
Cast – A closer look at the faces that made the film work.
The Making of Brooklyn – The obligatory EPK that plays out like a glorified trailer, with some musings by the cast and crew interspersed with montages from the film.
Book to Screen – A look at adapting Colm Toibin’s novel for the big screen.
The Bottom Line
It’s hard to be too hard on a film that has its heart in the right place, but Brooklyn can’t help but feel like a disappointment. The story is sluggish and really doesn’t have a lot to say. I think it would help if the characters were the least bit interesting, but they’re not. Skip it.