In a bit of a perplexing twist, the 2015 cinematic slate appears to be dominated by a barrage of brilliant female performances. Typically, there are a dozen or so male roles every year worthy of Oscar consideration while the Best Actress race is sometimes relegated to dip into the foreign film ranks to help fill out its top five. Yet, 2015 has broken the mold and churned out an exceptional list of leading ladies primed to claim a highly coveted Oscar statue, and Brooklyn's star, Saoirse Ronan, finds herself nestled in the thick of the race.
After receiving the rare opportunity to travel to America in the 1950s and being set up with a job at a retail store and a place to stay, Irish native, Eilis Lacey (Ronan) leaves her elder sister and mother behind as she embarks on a new journey. Settling down in Brooklyn, New York, Eilis struggles coping with home sicknesses until she meets a charming Italian man named Tony (Emory Cohen) who sweeps her off her feet. Their relationship blossoms until Eiles is forced to venture back to Ireland where she is pursued by a wealthy and dashing young man (Domhnall Gleeson) who begs her to stay. Torn between these two wonderful men, Eilis must buckle down and choose the right destiny for her.
John Crowley's Brooklyn serves as a pleasing love story largely elevated by the refined onscreen work of its leading star, Saoirse Ronan. The gifted performer shines through a graceful and soft spoken character that forms an instantaneous bond with the audience. Her performance is complemented by a notable turn from supporting star, Emory Cohen. As someone put off by Cohen's small role in the 2012 drama, The Place Beyond the Pines, the actor re-brands himself in this winning drama. The entire ensemble is worthy of recognition as the complete cast plays a vital role in bringing Nick Hornby's delightful script to life, but it's the envious chemistry between Ronan and Cohen that sets the perfect tone for Brooklyn's triumphant love story.
Despite admirable acting and a top-notch screenplay, the films stumbles greatly in its third act. Brooklyn feels like it's on the clock and, as a result, this adapted story speeds through an ineffective and disingenuous love triangle in order to fall under the two-hour threshold. In addition, I've always praised the career work of supporting actor Domhnall Gleeson, yet he's completely mishandled in the role of Jim Farrell, Eilis' romantic interest when she returns home to Ireland. Unfortunately, this abrupt finale stands as a clear and tragic detractor from an otherwise brilliant film.
In what's become the mantra of the year, Brooklyn resides as another very stellar, yet unforgivably flawed, title. Thankfully, a witty screenplay and talented performers remain as the lasting memory with budding filmmaker, John Crowley's, latest work. You should expect to hear Saoirse Ronan's name during the awards season and a Best Picture nomination for Brooklyn would certainly be warranted as well.