Brooklyn Blu-ray Review
“You’ll feel so homesick that you’ll want to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from endure it…And then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who’s only yours. And you’ll realize that this is where your life is.”
These words come from Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan, 2007’s ATONEMENT, which earned her her first Oscar nod) to a girl not much younger than herself. Ellis knows her words to be true because she has made the same journey.
It’s the early 1950s and Ellis has decided to set for the United States from her home country of Ireland in search of a better life with more opportunities. In Brooklyn, she moves into an Irish boarding house and gets a job in a Manhattan department store. She is a shy girl and frequently homesick, in part because of letters from her sister. It is the attention of a young Italian man, Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen, Derek Cianfrance’s THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES), that makes her see that there is even more to life than she pictured on the boat. The relationship blossoms into love and the love into somehow something more.
BROOKLYN is not a terrible complex picture on the surface—girl moves from home, girl meets boy, girl and boy fall in love. But it reveals itself as an emotionally deep story, with main characters we are enamored with soon after meeting them. This is a love story, but one of the standouts that treats the characters as people, and it’s these people that we are pulling for.
BROOKLYN is written by Nick Hornby, whose other screenwriting credits include WILD and AN EDUCATION. (He may be better known for his novels, which include High Fidelity, About a Boy and A Long Way Down.) Hornby, adapting Colm Tóibín’s 2009 novel, has contributed greatly in fleshing out characters that are so real. Much of this credit does of course belong to Ronan, who is one of the best actresses working today, and Cohen, in a performance that should do much to land him more prominent roles. (The supporting cast of Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Brid Brennan and Domhnall Gleeson is also to be commended.)
Although she has been praised already in this review (in the previous paragraph, no less), special attention belongs to Saoirse Ronan. With Eilis, she has given a performance that is remarkably nuanced and one that stands as one of the most human so far this century.
Director John Crowley (2013’s CLOSED CIRCUIT, 2007’s BOY A) has done a stellar job at bringing a story that is both sad and hopeful to the screen, introducing modern viewers to a world that they may not initially understand but will undoubtedly, by the time the wonderful ending comes, find to be approachable and even universal.
BROOKLYN was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Although (apparently intentionally) soft overall, the video has a pleasant and natural look. Additionally, textures are fine and colors are accurate throughout.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Descriptive Audio 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Dialogue is clear and the atmosphere of the various locations (from Ireland to Coney Island) is established wonderfully.
Audio commentary by John Crowley: Director Crowley offers a strong track in which he discusses the production, the cast, themes, locations and more.
Promotional Featurettes: There are six short featurettes housed here, which offer a decent range of topics about BROOKLYN. They are: The Story (3:28), Home (3:01), Love (2:58), Cast (4:07), The Making of BROOKLYN (3:37) and Book to Screen (4:00).
Deleted and Extended Scenes (9:37): There are 11 here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Dinner to Go (Extended),” “Opening the Store,” “Going to Brooklyn,” “Christmas Away from Home,” “Dancing (Extended),” “Brooklyn is Changing,” “Bathing Suit,” “Come Inside,” “Basement Lock,” “New York Secrets” and “Cemetery Visit.” Available with optional commentary by Crowley.