Director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornby never even try to temper the flood of emotions that this story elicits, instead wading straight in. Thankfully, they manage to resist sentimentality at every step, although perhaps some more offhanded, edgy humour would have helped balance it better. Because as is, this film can be rather overwhelming at times, thanks to the sensitive, honest performances from the cast and a subject most people can identify with: how it feels to leave home.
It opens in 1950, as Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) is reluctantly preparing to leave her home and family in rural Ireland for a new life in New York City, arranged with the help of an Irish priest, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent). As she settles into the boarding house run by Mrs Kehoe (Julie Walters), she gets a department store job and starts studying bookkeeping, all of which helps take her mind off her homesickness. She also meets the persistent, charming Italian-American Tony (Emory Cohen), and they fall lustily in love. Just as life doesn't seem so bad after all, Eilis gets bad news and has to travel home to see her family. There, she meets the eligible bachelor Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). And now she will have to make a decision about where her home is.
The film's tone is open and emotive from the very start, with warmly glowing cinematography, a surging musical score and lots of over-serious conversations. The hills of Ireland have never looked so green, the bustling streets of Brooklyn never seemed quite so exciting. There are some comedic touches here and there, but the main tone here can be summed up in the word "yearning". This is a film that's easy to identify with for anyone who has ever moved away from home, especially as it explores conflicting loyalties and unexpected opportunities. These themes are much stronger than the romantic triangle that drives the film forward.
Continue reading: Brooklyn Review
Taking your first steps into adulthood is never easy, but for a young Irish woman named Eilis Lacey it's about to get more complicated than she ever could have imagined. She is encouraged to travel across the Atlantic to Brooklyn, New York by her local priest Father Flood, seeking opportunities and a promising career. Once there she settles into a job and a place of residence, but becomes overcome by homesickness when she starts to receive letters from home. Confused about whether or not she wants to continue her life in Brooklyn, the question is answered for her when she meets a handsome bachelor named Tony at a dance who is everything she could want in a partner. However, after tragedy strikes at home, she is forced to return, and she really can't be sure if she'll make it back to Brooklyn - especially when a former flame catches her eye once again.
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This film may look like one of those annoyingly mannered independent films, with its wacky young cast and arty-farty black and white photography, but it's actually a fresh, smart and very funny comedy. It also features one of the most honest female characters in recent memory: Frances is a true original who is awash in optimism as she tries to navigate the obstacles in her life.
Gerwig has made a career of playing quirky goofballs (see Damsels in Distress), and Frances is definitely offbeat. But she's also likeable and real. She lives in New York with her best pal Sophie (Sumner). But their close bond is strained when Frances' romance with her boyfriend (Esper) collapses while Sophie moves forward with her partner Patch (Heusinger). Now Frances needs to find a new place to live, so she moves in with Lev and Benji (Driver and Zegen). She's also pushing her dance company director (d'Amboise) for more work. While everyone around her is growing up and building their lives, she seems to be going backwards. But she never lets that get her down.
Frances is such an engaging character that we can't help but fall for her. Her relentlessly positive approach to life may seem corny, but she also insists on achieving her goals on her own terms. This may make her progress more difficult, such as when she takes a humiliating job at her old university, but at least she has her integrity. Sort of. Meanwhile the film is punctuated with moments of hilarious slapstick, sarcasm and relationships that ring sometimes painfully true. And at the centre is her strained but unshakable bond with Sophie.
Continue reading: Frances Ha Review
Frances Handley is a 27-year-old aspiring modern dancer and an apprentice for a dance company, though she has no real talent in the art. She lives in an apartment in New York with her best friend Sophie who is smarter and much more mature with an ambition in publishing. As time goes on, their bond begins to weaken as their lives take different courses and their personalities take different courses. Sophie wants to move out with another friend of hers leaving Frances to work out her own life and take care of herself for once in her life. Will this pair be separated forever by romance, ambition and growing older, or will they find it in themselves to reconcile?
'Frances Ha' is a black and white comedy drama with many similar qualities to a rom com, except platonic. It has been directed by Noah Baumbach ('The Squid and the Whale', 'Greenberg') who also co-wrote the screenplay with the movie's star Greta Gerwig ('Hannah Takes the Stairs', 'Nights and Weekends'). It looks at love in a way that is rarely explored in movies these days and has so far received immense reviews since its premiere at Toronto Film Festival. It is set to hit screens on July 26th 2013.
Release date 26th July 2013
Continue: Frances Ha Trailer
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