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Movie review: ‘Brooklyn’

Emory Cohen and Saiorse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn’
Emory Cohen and Saiorse Ronan in ‘Brooklyn’ Fox Searchlight

Big, romantic and as sweet as wedding cake, Brooklyn is a bi-continental love story that proudly wears its heart on its well-crafted sleeve. That it’s more moving than mawkish is a testament to the strong cast and a finely tuned script from Nick Hornby of About a Boy and An Education fame.

It’s the early ’50s and life in small-town Ireland is suffocating Ellis (Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones, Hanna), a shopgirl who dreams of bigger things. A local priest, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), through his connections in the large Irish community in the U.S., arranges passage for her to go to New York, in addition to setting her up in a rooming house and with a department-store job.

At first, she’s woefully homesick for her older sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott), and widowed mother, but that changes when she meets Tony (Emory Cohen, The Place Beyond the Pines), an Italian-American guy with a thing for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Irish girls.

Then a family crisis occurs back home and Ellis has to return to Ireland. But it’s not all tears and tragedy, as she meets Jim (Domhnall Gleeson), who is immediately smitten. Two choices on two continents. What’s a woman to do?

Based on a novel by Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn showcases solid performances, with Ronan and Cohen sporting an easygoing chemistry. Yet the most memorable (and funniest) moments belong to scene-stealing Julie Walters as Mrs. Kehoe, the no-nonsense woman who runs Ellis’ all-female rooming house with a strict hand.

Director John Crowley (Boy A, Closed Circuit) opts for a lush look with a fine sense for period detail. His approach wonderfully complements Brooklyn’s lack of cynicism and pleasantly old-fashioned sensibilities.

Exclusive: Landmark Magnolia, Dallas; Angelika Plano; opens Nov. 25 at Cinemark North East Mall, Hurst; Cinemark Tinseltown 17, Grapevine; Cinemark 17, Dallas; and Cinemark Legacy 24, Plano.

Brooklyn

Director: John Crowley

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters

Rated: PG-13 (a scene of sexuality and brief strong language)

Running time: 111 min.

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