Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Brooklyn


Reading letters is a plot device. 

However in the 2016 Best Picture nominee Brooklyn directed by John Crowley reading letters – this is snail mail mind you – was more than a plot device but was also the visualization of a heartbreak and thus highlight of my watching experience. They act as my goal posts wherein I could judge what condition Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) was in and where she was going.  The letters or rather the reading of it was what hooked me.

Now what I say sounds bad since reading letters are indeed plot devices allowing the story to pass more speedily, without dialogue. And there is the fact filmmakers do these type of scenes sparingly.

My problem you see was the language or more to the point the accent. Filipino ears are meant only for American accents and Brooklyn has scenes in Ireland; Saoirse pronounced Sersha is fully Irish.  I had to be in full attention not to miss anything.  While I was trying to enjoy myself I was also stressed out straining at attention.  Thankfully half the movie has Americans in the story so that’s less stress to my ear.

I like how Saoirse delivered her role as Eilis, it truly deserves the best actress nomination.

Eilis is the youngest daughter of a brood of two, the mother’s a widower; and she moved to Brooklyn in the United States.  Mother and sister are left in Ireland.  Besides that I had nothing else to sink my teeth into.  What is there for me to like about a lonely Irish girl?  I’ve never been out of the country so I can’t imagine the experience. I don’t even know what year it was in the story in order for me to get at least a feel of the period, what to expect.  

That is until Eilis read her first letter and I felt her heart broke.   The youngest shouldn’t be just holding a piece of paper or a phone.  She should be holding her big sister or her mother and not “hear” their voices thousands of miles away. That’s how I can almost see Eilis’ heart break apart whenever she reads a letter.  Her heart crosses the letter like a portal to her family in Ireland; it’s never in one piece.

One other thing that gave this movie a disadvantage is wrong expectations.  When you google Brooklyn the movie is listed under drama and romance.  It isn’t romance even though the story had men involved.  I never really felt the love between Eilis and Tony.  It always felt like a second fiddle to her family, her world in Ireland, or to the life she has in the United States.   

Brooklyn is really a coming of age film about a girl from Ireland who found herself thousands of miles away.

So the greatest joy going through the movie in spite of some stress in the ear, moving through my goal posts, is to see Eilis no longer hugging a piece of paper but Tony; this after letting go the life in Ireland.  

She’s grown up confident and sure of herself as she hugs not just the man but the life in front of her, the life she built not inherited.