[Movie] Brooklyn

This movie was pretty good. You should support Act For Change and make me watch a bad movie instead so you can feast upon my sarcastic rage.

I’ve been trying to catch up on as many best picture nominees as possible for special podcast-related reasons, so I jumped at the chance of seeing this one at the Alamo Drafthouse last weekend. (I am also trying to find a showing of Creed I can watch, for potential talking shit about the nominees purposes.) Like most of the other nominees, this Isn’t My Kind Of Movie, which means it’s the sort of movie I should still watch anyway in the interest of expanding my horizons out of the genre dungeon.

Brooklyn is about an Irish immigrant with a name that’s completely unspellable without referring to IMDB (Eilis, played by Saoirse Ronan) who comes to the titular city in the 1950s, looking to make a future for herself after she can’t find decent work in Ireland. She meets and falls in love with an Italian plumber who is regrettably not named Mario or Luigi (Emory Cohen) and eventually has to decide if her home will be in America or Ireland. There’s not that much plot to it; this is more a character study built on scenes of fairly ordinary days that add up to a life.

It’s a very pretty movie, with a softness to the way everything is shot that reminds me of old photographs. I think there’s a lot of that sort of nostalgia filtering going on throughout the film; everything looks exceedingly clean, society is startlingly polite. Maybe 1950s Brooklyn had a Leave-It-to-Beaver air to it, I don’t know my history granularly enough to say. On one hand, that gives room for Eilis’s conflict to be entirely a choice between old and new lives, without any outer social distraction. (And Time magazine seems to feel it was pretty accurate in some ways.) But I felt entirely unmoored, since I didn’t find any distinct sense of history beyond the costuming to really remind me where we were.

One thing I did love about the movie, which was highlighted in my mind perhaps because I’d seen Lazer Team less then twelve hours earlier, was just how many women there were in it. It was about mothers and daughters and women helping each other make it in a new place or occasionally trying to destroy each other. Men mostly exist in the film as arm candy for the supporting characters, and while one of Eilis’s conflicts is choosing between two equally nice men, it’s secondary to her choosing if she will go back to her life in America generally, or stay in Ireland with her mother. I also loved that some female characters I expected to be quite nasty thanks to common film tropes ended up being immensely supportive of each other.

Ultimately, it’s like eating cotton candy; it fades away almost immediately but for that lingering memory of sweetness. I didn’t find it to be terribly substantial, and while I can’t say I regret watching it, not by a long shot, I’m really not sure what it’s doing up against movies like Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, or even The Martian.

(Still to go: Spotlight and Room. And Creed because I’ve heard it sure as hell deserved a nod.)

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