Blu-ray Review: Brooklyn

By , Contributor
One of the critics' darlings of 2015, Brooklyn offers a romantic drama that is so old fashioned it could've been released as-is several generations ago. That's not a knock against it, just an observation. Perhaps amidst all the Avengers and Star Wars razzmatazz, film fans are starved for something quieter and more introspective. Brooklyn, set in the '50s and utterly unconcerned with flashiness of any kind, is quiet indeed. But it's characterizations are only skin deep.

Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis, a young Irish woman venturing out to New York in search of greater opportunities. Ronan was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar (Nick Hornby's adapted screenplay was also nominated, as was the movie itself for Best Picture) and she's fine in the role. But Eilis' defining character trait is her bland niceness. Realistically, Eilis is rather ill-defined in her youth—it's not that she's of low character, she's just too young and inexperienced to have developed any identifiable character at all. This wouldn't be a problem if Hornby and director John Crowley had only crafted an arc of some kind for Eilis to grow upon.

Eilis doesn't want to hang around her small Irish town caring for her mother. She works as a shop girl for shrewish Miss Kelly (Brid Brennan). So she journeys by sea to the U.S., where she becomes a shop girl at a much bigger store. Her accommodations are a group home for young Irish immigrant women, presided over by an ultra-religious older woman. Having led a sheltered life heretofore, and living in a world where less opportunities are offered to females, Eilis responds enthusiastically to the advances of Tony (Emory Cohen). Here we get into some spoiler territory, which isn't saying much (the wisp of a plot has very few surprises, though to be fair it's just not that kind of movie). To discuss further, I do need to divulge a few plot points.

Eilis and Tony get married rather impulsively when Eilis is called back to Ireland due to the sudden death of her sister. Back home she begins a relationship with Jim (Domhnall Gleeson) and has second thoughts about her life in Brooklyn with Tony. She's torn—not so much between two men, because she doesn't know either man very well, but between two lifestyles. Painted as a story of true romance, Brooklyn is actually a portrait of the ever-changing mindset of a young adult who hasn't yet figured out what she wants. She's a boring woman with a taste for rather boring men. Her dilemma revolves around which of these nice-but-dull fellows might provide her with a more comfortable life (Jim is set to inherit property). I realize I'm in the vast minority of viewers left unmoved by Eilis' situation, but honestly there just isn't enough true drama here to sustain a nearly two-hour film. 
Brooklyn BD (308x380).jpg Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's Blu-ray offers a rock solid 1080p, high definition transfer of Yves BĂ©langer's cinematography. The low-key soundtrack is presented in lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1. Director John Crowley delivers an audio commentary track. There are about 20 minutes' worth of fluffy promotional featurettes. Crowley also provides optional audio commentary for ten minutes of deleted/extended scenes. The Blu-ray package includes a Digital HD copy.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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