Simply stated, “Brooklyn” is a fantastic, engaging film. It tells the story of a young Irish girl who immigrates to New York in the early 1950s, and it is a movie that every young woman will embrace with joy.
The talented Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis, an Irish lass leaving her mother and sister to face the unknown in the United States. Lacking a formal education and facing ghastly seasickness on the trip across the Atlantic, she finds a place with other young girls in a Brooklyn boarding house while taking a job at a Bloomingdale-like department store.
There are some special performances in this film, none more so than from Ms. Ronan. Likely to receive an Oscar nomination, she builds on previous performances in memorable films like “Atonement” (2007), “The Way Back” (2010), the incredible “Hanna” (2011) and “The Host” (2013). Hard to believe that this enormously talented actress is only 21 years of age.
But there are other characters who you will not forget. Jane Brennan plays Eilis’ Irish mother who aches to have her back home while not wanting to stand in her way. Brid Brennan plays Miss Kelly, Eilis’ employer in Ireland, who may be one of the nastiest, most selfish women you have seen on the screen this year. However, Julie Walters is a knockout playing Mrs. Kehoe, the extraordinarily caustic head mistress of Eilis’ boarding house in Brooklyn. There were repeated scenes involving young immigrant girls around a dinner table that left the entire audience laughing.
Not to be forgotten are two wonderful performances by Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen, two young men whom Eilis loves. Cohen’s Tony lives in Brooklyn with his Italian immigrant family, while Gleeson’s Jim is a wealthy Irish lad with a heart of gold. Both men are hardworking and incredibly decent, and Eilis has to choose who she marries and who she leaves behind.
With Eilis wrestling with the consequences of the magnetic pull on her heart on separate continents, she works on improving her education with the help of the legendary Jim Broadbent, here playing a priest who provides assistance at every turn. In the process, director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby bring us a tiny, atmospheric film about immigrants who leave a homeland in tears as they set out on an adventure of unknown consequences. This is a brilliant movie that you absolutely have to see.
I’m sure I speak for many of you when I say I have grown very weary of watching recent films by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Liam Neeson. Acting as if they have found the cinematic version of the Fountain of Youth, they appear in regrettable action films where they want us to believe that they are in their 30s instead of over 60.
Nonetheless, Stallone breaks that mold with “Creed,” finally realizing that it is time to act his age. And he does it with style and charm.
Stallone’s Rocky Balboa is back in action, now running a restaurant in Philadelphia after souring on his boxing career. He knows that his best days are reduced to looking at various pictures on his restaurant walls, and he regularly visits the grave of his wife and an old friend to try to maintain contact with loved ones who are now long gone.
Heading his way is a young man dedicated to pursuing a boxing career, in the process learning that he is the son of Balboa’s old nemesis, Apollo Creed. Having never met his father, you follow this young man from the time he grew up in a juvenile detention facility. Fortunately, he was saved from his own excesses when a special woman (played warmly by Phylicia Rashad), who was married to his dad, adopts him.
This film has an emotional kick because of both director/co-screenwriter Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, who plays young Creed. If you saw 2013’s superb “Fruitville Station,” you already know the great talent that both of these gentlemen possess.
Here, Jordan’s Creed is wrestling with an angry upbringing that he tries to control while convincing Rocky to be his coach. The interaction between the two resembles that of a father and son, and you watch one trying to recapture his past while the other seeks to fulfill his dreams. They both are left struggling at times, and you are occasionally left quietly cheering in your seat while wiping away inevitable tears from your eyes.
While watching the film, I couldn’t help but wonder if the cost of boxing would lead young Creed down a road of mental issues that we have recently seen with Muhammad Ali. A depressing, lingering thought that hovered over a fine movie.
Let me close with a comment from my adoring wife who celebrates my birthday by going to one movie a year. She liked this film and graciously responded to my praise of Stallone for acting his age, “Isn’t he younger than you?”
I politely replied, “See you at the theater on Dec. 5, 2016, darlin’.”•
Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.