10DoO #3 – Brooklyn (2015)

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Welcome to the third day of these 10 Days of Oscar as we continue going through the films that conform the slate of films nominated for Best Picture.

by Jaime Grijalba.

There was something weird about this movie, before I got the chance to see it, I felt attracted to it, and it wasn’t just the glowing reviews that I had read around, or the incredible praise given to the performance of Saoirse Ronan, there was something about the title, the poster and the aura that surrounded the whole thing. For some reason, when I finally got around to it, I was left underwhelmed and profoundly disappointed regarding what I ended up seeing, but I wasn’t entirely sure why was that. Then, reading around I noticed (much later than I should) that Nick Hornby wrote the film. And I really don’t like Hornby’s writing, and I’ve never loved a film with his attachment in some way (though this could be the best movie that uses his writing, most of it due to the fact that it’s based on what seems to be a really good novel), the most recent example being my unapologetic view of ‘An Education’ (2009, Scherfig) as a wonderfully acted unethical mess of a film.

‘Brooklyn’ follows some of the same trappings that I thought were faulty in the 2009 film. That seemingly progressive faux-feminism that entitles young women to do whatever they want, but they’re truly just being trapped by the almighty evil male figures, that are always idolized by these films, while the girls are punished for being frail, dumb and somewhat non-active towards whatever it is that they are confronted with. In this case, the main character goes to America after an entire childhood and first teenage years in Ireland, where she must confront the issues of immigration and being a woman in those early years. But the film gets iffy when it seems that she only finds meaning in her stay as long as she finds love in a young Italian man that comes to save her from the safe depression in which she was entering by missing her home country.

It’s only the sudden death of her sister, who is in Ireland, that she is impelled to come back, as his mother asks for her presence, just around the time that she’s well established and she even got married to the Italian young man. It’s as if she were totally deprived of the gift that God gave us that is free will, or maybe it was stripped away by Nick Hornby, as she only reacts dimly to the dictates of the plot that has been devised before her, and also the dictates of a highly patriarchal society, that leaves her without a choice when a man in her homeland approaches her with the intention of make her fall in love with him. Yet, at the same time, she runs with it and it’s only when her real position is menaced as a young married woman that she does something about it.

It’s weak melodrama, or drama, as the high emotions are more intended or supposed than truly felt by the characters, as I think this movie (and its performances) would’ve greatly benefited from the exaggeration and the exacerbation of the crying, the suffering and everything that came down to them, as I think that the lack of a strong representation of these is what made this film lack a bigger kind of approach to me, or to someone that isn’t as easily made to forget the trappings of what seems to be strong female characters, but in the end it’s the same empty canvases that are painted every year in every other film, just with the façade of a wonderful experience and how the decisions made are also made to be believed as proper of a liberal woman, when it’s not the exact case.

But I must say that the direction of John Crowley makes this a fleeting watch, and the film is edited in a tight manner, and the right emotional moments hit it right in the head, and this is a much more pleasing experience than ‘The Big Short’ (2015, McKay). I must say that those two films are my least favorite of the slate for the big award, and I wished that they were replaced by something like ‘The Hateful Eight’ (2015, Tarantino) or even ‘Carol’ (2015, Haynes), but, more about that later. But I don’t strictly think that they are bad movies, they are more movies that I personally can’t connect to because I can see way too much into the way that they were written or made that personally makes me uncomfortable, but at the same time I can’t deny seeing the greatness that they have in practically every other direction that I don’t criticize.

7/10

2 responses to “10DoO #3 – Brooklyn (2015)

  1. Jaimie, kudos on a thought-provoking, perceptive review. As you know this is my favorite film of 2015. I thought it superbly conveyed an elegiac mood, and brilliantly examined the difficult decision confronted by Ronan’s character. Acting, creamy cinematography, music, script all of the first-rank.

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