“Calm and civilised and charming” is how Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) describes her hometown in Ireland after returning for a visit from Brooklyn but she could have easily have been describing the very film she was in. Brooklyn is a beautiful and sentimental film set in the 1950s when Eilis moves from Ireland to start a new life in Brooklyn. At first she struggles with being so far from home but eventually love and a career start to blossom and Brooklyn feels more and more like home. Upon returning home for a visit for a few months Eilis becomes conflicted and must decide where her home, and her heart, truly lie.
All sounds delightful doesn’t it?
What Brooklyn captures well is the feeling of moving far away from home to a more exciting place that is initially much more lonely. Saoirse Ronan is a sympathetic lead, and refreshingly Irish for a change, and easily gets the audience on her side and rooting for her in the big city. Helping her out in Brooklyn are Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters in relatively small roles but both exuding the warmth they so naturally bring to the screen. I almost shed a tear as she sat crying over letters from home. It was all very moving, beautifully shot, and winningly acted.
The film as a whole was very sumptuous to look at. It felt like watching an advert for some indulgent premium confectionery. This is all very pleasing to the eyes but had the effect of removing me somewhat from the emotional side of the film. There are some pivotal relationships involving Eilis but I could not buy into them fully. The golden sheen of the film smoothed out any real intimacy between those involved. The climax of the film involves Eilis making a choice but the outcome felt inconsequential as I was not invested in either option.
Brooklyn is calm and civilised and charming. It is easy to get swept up in its chocolate box charms but I defy you to truly get invested in any of the romance. Saoirse Ronan is a strong actor and capably leads the film but the limitations in Nick Hornby’s script hold her back.
Good but not great Brooklyn is the kind of film the whole family can watch on a cold autumn evening.
Brooklyn airs on the 12th, 13th, and 14th October and tickets are still available to buy.
While the younger cast of the Harry Potter series may well have been works in progress, the adult roles were filled with pretty much every working actor in Britain with a familiar face. It was these actors who initially kept us coming back for more, without whom we may never have learnt to love the boy wizard and his chums. Below we run through our top fifteen of the adult performances across the eight films in alphabetical order. We tried to whittle it down with no success.
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
We start with an actor whose performance has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, and often in the same film. As Harry’s most consistent antagonist Snape offered up an ambiguous character, often seeming to be more evil that he was. What makes Rickman’s performance legendary are his epic pauses and dangerously slow delivery, as if trying to get as much screen time as his brief dialogue will allow. In the final film Rickman delivers both his slowest speech and his most moving performance. There are few better in this list.
David Bradley as Argus Filch
It’s hard to believe that in the earlier films the major danger was being caught out of bed by Filch, a far cry from the fantastical battles the franchise concludes with. While often a menace to our heroes, Filch was ultimately a fun character bringing two of the biggest laughs in the finale and a warm nostalgic feeling with them.
You may remember that last month we spent two nights at the BFI IMAX watching all seven Harry Potter films over the course of two nights. (Thanks BFI IMAX!) We finished our journey through the franchise on Monday night as we watched and scored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. What follows is a run down of all eight films, written using the increasingly brief and incoherent notes we made at the time. Spoilers lie ahead.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
In which Harry Potter learns he is a wizard, goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and defeats a teacher harbouring the evil wizard Voldemort at the back of his head.
We start the franchise with an over-long film with terrible acting, odd prosthetics and scenes bordering on pantomime. From the initial scenes with the Dursleys playing out as a knockabout comedy to the final showdown in which a man completely disintegrates, Christopher Columbus produced a completely uneven film which relies mostly on reaction shots for laughs. Horrible acting from the kids is made up for by sheer cuteness and ultimately the film is a bit better than you remember. 6/10
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The series continues with Harry hearing voices and writing in a diary which writes back. Turns out that pesky diary was Voldemort again.
As the kids seem to have experienced a growth spurt since the previous film they are less cute and their acting has improved slightly to compensate. Early scenes at the Burrows with the Weasley parents are great but even Julie Walters can’t make exposition work properly. Jason Isaacs and Kenneth Branagh are pretty awesome but Christopher Columbus again fails to make anything remarkable happen. With students being attacked (but surviving) the series begins its journey into becoming “dark”. 6.5/10
For the past three hours I have actively avoided writing this review, struggling to stay objective and discuss the film as if it were any other. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 could have been just another children’s fantasy adventure, yet another sequel and an adaptation of a previous work, but subjective sentiment and a decade of fandom aside, this is one hell of a film.