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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When Slater's girlfriend Nadia is kidnapped from her apartment by a violent group, his only hope of finding her lies in a mysterious organisation known as Brand New-U. They offer a unique service to their clients, identifying 'identicals' and helping people leave behind their troubled previous lives in favour of more successful and affluent lives. However, there's one rule for all involved in the program; you must take nothing with you on your new journey. Also, while it's free to all those who use it (which is just as well because Slater has found himself totally broke), he may be forced to kill his donor. All he wants is to find his lover, but that becomes a minefield of a task when there's parallel lives at every turn and it soon becomes clear that he's starting to forget himself.
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There aren't any particular surprises in The Magdalene Sisters once the three heroines are locked away. Most sequences follow the same pattern, where the lank-haired, poorly fed, and half-clothed girls aspire for freedom, love, or fair treatment and are met with beatings and brutality. Lest there be any doubt of Sister Bridget's wicked witch nastiness, she's often seen counting her money and turning a blind eye to the random injustices within her makeshift girl's prison. Often compared with Louise Fletcher's Nurse Ratched, a more careful viewing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will reveal subtleties to the character that don't exist in the one-note tyrant, Sister Bridget.
Continue reading: The Magdalene Sisters Review
Have a spookily musical Halloween this year.
Director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornby never even try to temper the flood of...
Taking your first steps into adulthood is never easy, but for a young Irish woman...
When Slater's girlfriend Nadia is kidnapped from her apartment by a violent group, his only...
Stirring up controversy for its depiction of Ireland's brutal, now-defunct Magdalene laundries for wayward girls,...