Saturday, December 26, 2015

Brooklyn Review

We're post Star Wars on this blog and now it's time to dive into a movie that I actually saw long before Star Wars, I just never got around to writing a review of it because the month was so busy and I spent so much focus on my Star Wars reviews. But now that that time is past, it's finally time to dive into Brooklyn, a movie that was initially released at the Sundance Film Festival this year and has received huge buzz ever since, especially for actress Saoirse Ronan, an actress who makes me glad that I only have to type her name in this review instead of saying it, because apparently I've been pronouncing her name wrong all these years. Just go watch any of the recent nominations, like the Golden Globes, and watch as everyone pauses for like five seconds before announcing her name because they have no idea how to pronounce Saoirse. Apparently the way she says it is "Sersha" as in rhyming with "inertia." I have no idea how the Irish get that pronunciation from that spelling, but apparently it's Irish for "freedom," which is cool. Anyways, I've been a huge fan of the girl since Hanna in 2011, a very underrated film, and I was excited to see her in another award-worthy role as she was nominated for an Oscar in 2007 for her role in Atonement.

As far as the movie itself, I was slightly confused as to why this was getting so much awards buzz. It's a movie that many would call a "chick flick." An Oscar-nominated chick flick? What? Certainly there's more too it than that that has people's attention, right? Well yes. And no. I'll get to that in a bit, but first I want to talk about what a chick flick actually is, because I've often said that I'm not a huge fan of chick flicks. This statement has had people concerned and a lot of discussions recently have ensued that have led me to realize that there doesn't seem to be a consensus on what a chick flick actually is. The first definition that I've heard is that a chick flick is a movie that has a mostly female cast. I'll go right on record to say that I have zero problem with this type of movie. The second definition that I've heard is that a chick flick is a romantic comedy. I'm also usually fine with romantic comedies, although I usually call those rom coms, not chick flicks. The third definition is the definition that I've always used and that is that a chick flick is a romance drama. So is Brooklyn a chick flick? I don't know. It depends on your definition. Is it a romance drama? Absolutely. And honestly it's a pretty dang good one that proves you can make a good romance drama that everyone loves, not just females.

Why is it that I don't usually like romance dramas and what makes Brooklyn different? Let's first talk about that first question. I have no problem with a movie that has a romance in it. That's most movies. But when the whole movie is nothing but the romance story, it often gets very boring for me. Think of pretty much every Nicholas Sparks movie that has been made, like The Notebook, Dear John, or Safehaven. Guy meets girl. Guy and girl fall in love. Guy and girl experience some sort of falling out that make it so their romance almost doesn't happen. Yet despite whatever it was that troubled them or almost separated them, they somehow make up in the end and live happily ever after. That's a formula that works for many people and if you are one of them, then that's great. But for me, if I can see the end of the movie from a mile and a half away, that's often a problem. Sure, some movies are more about the journey than the end result, but many of the journeys in these romance dramas are just boring and repetitive and when you cap a boring journey with cookie-cutter ending, it's just not enough to please me. Sure, I'm not the target audience for these movies and if the target audience is pleased by simply watching a basic movie where two people fall in love, then that's fantastic. They did their job. But I know that there are movies out there that can please both the girl that wanted to see this movie as well as the guy who got dragged along with her.

Brooklyn is that movie! It's the type of movie where guys and girls, teenagers and adults can all enjoy and be completely captivated by. It's the movie that I will bring up every time I get into a disucssion about romance dramas and how there are ones that actually entertain me, despite the fact that most of them don't. As someone on IMDb said, Brooklyn is the movie that every Nicholas Sparks movie wishes it could be. What's the difference? Well, while this is still a movie that follows the romance drama formula, at its core it's not just about the romance. No, the romance story is not just a side dish or a sub-plot. It's definitely the main course. But when you walk out of this movie, the romance will not be the topic that's on your mind. You'll be reflecting on the journey you went on with this girl where she tried to figure out her place in the world. It's a story about a girl who didn't feel at place in her home country of Ireland and so she decided that she needed to move to America. Yet when she got to America, she was so alone. Life was rough. This was an emotional journey for this girl that I think we can all relate to. Regardless of our situation, change is hard and transition is often tough to deal with. How is she able to overcome this difficult situation and accept her new life in America? She gets set up with a school to go to in order to keep her occupied and then she finds a boy to fall in love with. Thus sets up our romance drama.

I was fully invested in this movie during this journey and a big part of that was the amazing performance by Saoirse Ronan. She totally sold this role and made you really feel for this girl who was feeling lost, both at home and even more so away from home. Then you feel happy for her as she finally seems to find her place in the world. I would've actually been satisfied with a happily ever after story just like that, but then about halfway through the movie something happens that completely blindsided me. I guess I should've seen it coming, but I didn't because I was so invested in the current story with Saoirse Ronan and her new guy. As I stated before, in most romance dramas we have the formula where guy meets girl, guy and girl fall in love, something happens that causes guy and girl to experience a falling out, then they make up and live happily ever after. Yes, Brooklyn started down this path, but it was already a whole lot deeper and more captivating that I didn't know exactly what to expect. I'm not going to tell you what does happen, but needless to say the second half of this movie becomes almost a totally different movie from the first half and I honestly had no idea how it was going to end. Like I said, I don't like it when I see the plot of the movie from a mile and a half away, which is why I really appreciated this movie for taking me in directions that I didn't expect.

I also can't end this review without praising the production quality of this movie. We're set in the 1950's and it definitely has the feel of the 1950's. It's not a movie that just puts on the mask and tries to trick you into being a movie set in the past. I actually felt like I was taken to the past for this movie. There were a lot of things that combined to give me this feel from the production design to the costume design to the makeup and hairstyles to the actors giving believable performance with believable accents. It was all done very well. Adding to this was gorgeous cinematography and a fantastic score. Saoirse Ronan also wasn't the only actress who gave a fantastic performance. I was captivated by the performance of Domnhall Gleeson as well. I'm not going to say what his character does, but he's an actor who has impressed me for a long time now. You all know him now as General Hux in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he's also been in the Harry Potter franchise (Bill Weasley), he was in About Time, he was in Unbroken, he was in Ex Machina earlier this year, and in each movie he is in he has played a very different role and he's been able to submerse himself in each role to the point where you almost don't recognize that it's him. I love it when an actor can do that. One of these days he's going to get an Oscar nomination and I will be happy for him. But speaking of which, Saoirse Ronan is about to get her second Oscar nomination and I am very happy for her because this is well deserved.

Yes, this is a romance drama and even though I normally don't like romance dramas because they are boring and predictable, Brooklyn I did love. It's a story about a girl trying to find her place in the world and since we all have been in that situation in one form or another, I do think that this is a very relatable movie that those beyond the target audience for the genre can and will enjoy. So if you are a girl or guy who loves romance dramas, go see this movie. You'll love it. If you are a girl or a guy who doesn't typically love romance dramas, go see this movie. It's a wonderful character piece that you can relate to and enjoy as well. All signs point to multiple Oscar nominations for this movie and I am totally fine with this. In a year that has been jam packed with tons of fantastic movies, I'm not sure if it will make my top 5 or my top 10, but it's still very worth seeing. I have loved Saoirse Ronan since I saw the movie Hanna and I think she's done a great job in everything I've seen her in since. That fact that she's only 21 makes me very excited for her future because her career has already been really good. Make sure to keep an eye out for this girl if you haven't already. And go seek out Brooklyn. You'll be glad you did. My grade for Brooklyn is an 8/10.

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