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« Tangerine Wishes & Globe Prediction Jitters | Main | Outstanding Achievement in Abs: Alexander Skarsgård »
Wednesday
Dec092015

"Brooklyn" Beyond Saoirse

Chris here. We're pleased as punch with all of the precursor love that's greeted Saoirse Ronan's timeless star turn in Brooklyn. Today though, in light of SAG's virtually female-free Outstanding Ensemble list, let's give some love to this film's unnominated but vibrant ensemble.

Yes, Saoirse Ronan is getting the majority of the prizes and praises for the film - heck, she could share an ensemble prize for the film with just herself and her multitude of emotions  in the film and you'd have no complaints from me. However, Eilis's journey in the film is more fully realized with the lived-in actors that surround Ronan's protagonist.

THE FAMILIAR FACES

  • Emory Cohen as Tony Fiorello - I'll join those who were happily surprised with his performance, after ghastly work in The Place Beyond the Pines and elsewhere. Not just a pining lothario, he's also believably accepting of Eilis's need to be her own woman. Dreamboat of the Year.
  • Domnhall Gleeson as Jim Farrell - A much more bland love interest to Eilis, but intentionally so. He really sells Jim's uncomplicated ambitions
  • Julie Walters as Mrs. Kehoe - Archly hilarious as the matron of Eilis's boarding house for girls. She'd be a Supporting Actress contender if it weren't for competition with more screen time and *ahem* narrative focus
  • Jim Broadbent as Father Flood - As charming as ever in a tiny role

And here's where it get's really good after the jump...

THE BROOKLYNITES

  • Eve Macklin as Diana & Emily Bett Richards as Patty - Charming partners in crime yet not simplistic twins with the same brain. Don't you wish you had galpals like them to help you with your love life?
  • Jessica Pare as Miss Fortini - You can't handle this glamour! Yes she's tough on Eilis but who cares when she wears the same simple black costume in every damn scene and is still the most sublime fashion presence in the film!
  • Jenn Murray as Dolores - Oh this poor, dear thing. Murray sells her naivete as both annoying and hilarious, making you adore her as you agree with the girls' abhorence of her
  • James DiGiacomo as Frankie Fiorello - You've seen the trailer? Great, you've seen the performance! But he still gets the biggest laughs and the most immediate love from the audience
  • Eva Birthistle as Georgina - Who would Eilis have become without her example? Once Eilis's journey mirrors Georgina's, don't you crave to know what became of her?

BACK IN IRELAND

  • Jane Brennan as Mary Lacy - Gracfully modulating her grief and forceful expectations upon Eilis, her face just breaks your heart
  • Fiona Glascott as Rose Lacy - Conveying a life's worth of hope and sacrifice in a single goodbye, we sense her deep love of Eilis without saying a word
  • Brid Brennan as Miss Kelly - The embodiment of all that is purely evil in this world - but we see the life of pain and disappointment that has turned her so cruel
  • Eileen O'Higgins as Nancy - A perfect counterpoint to the boarding-house girls, her enthusiasm not diminished by her lack of wordliness. In her own way, she's grown up too while Eilis was away.

Director John Crowley hasn't been given  enough credit for drawing together a massive ensemble of performers that create such a richly lived-in world. Even the smallest of bit players not listed here are fully-embodied human beings suggesting a life capable of carrying their own film. Eilis's story is one among similar millions starting over in a new country and creating a new life;  Crowley gives us that context by making his ensemble as lively as his star.

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Reader Comments (22)

FYC Emory Cohen!
Something I never thought I'd say.

I can't believe the boy who gave arguably The Worst Performance of all Time in The Place Beyond the Pines (okay, I exaggerate, but not by much!) grew up to be such an adorable, charismatic, loose, lived-in, cute-but-not-too-cute love interest.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered Commentergoran

justice for leo!

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I don't recall Emory Cohen being particularly appalling in Place Beyond the Pines, but I think I was completely checked out of the movie by the time he rolled in.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

i'm so happy that i wasn't the only person completed delighted by the boarding house scenes. such a sweet engaging and ultimately moving movie.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I wouldn't call Cohen's character a "lothario." He's devoted to Eilis, body and soul.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

I loved this film particularly for its attention to those small moments that happen between characters. To me "Brooklyn" ranks right up there with "Gosford Park" in terms of getting so many personal and intimate scenes just right. Director John Crowley got good performances from everyone, and everyone served the film as a whole. That's the definition of an ensemble piece. But SAG overlooks this Altmanesque achievement. (Stupid SAG awards)

Also I had read the book before seeing the film and so was extra critical, this film really did justice to the book. (Sorry for the essay, but if any of you still haven't seen this film, do yourselves a favour and check it out.)

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Brennan is amazing! Breaks your heart.

I second the love for the boardinghouse scenes. And everyone in this movie is marvelous. No one feels like a stereotype.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Brooklyn remains my favorite film yet this year, with notably Carol, Creed, and Spotlight yet unseen. In a word, it's flawless. Ronan anchors every single scene with an understated grace. I'm also still holding out hope that Walters will pull through with a nomination.

I had the advantage (?) of having never seen Cohen in anything before and found him to be charismatic (and crushworthy!). His performance makes the film work as a whole - he had to be magnetic and memorable enough to believably draw her back from Ireland! I think I would have returned :) But I understand the uneasiness Nathaniel previously discussed based on his previous roles. I saw the film with my mother-in-law and she told me on the way out of the theater "I kept expecting him to rape her." I don't think she had watched any of the trailers - or maybe she used to watch Smash.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

AND - Jenn Murray as Dolores was a hoot! loved her and the rest of the boarding house girls.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

Tyler -- i agree that that word doesn't quite fit. HOWEVER. I also believe that there is a maybe a slight suggestion that he has been something of a womanizer in the past... but Eilis is the one.

December 9, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Great, great post. And timely. DAMN SAG!

Just seeing that photo of Brenna already makes me teary a bit. And all of the boarding house scenes were perfection. Really thought Walters would've been more in the awards conversation considering how much people loved the film.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Nathaniel - Not in the book. ;)

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

I seem to recall not feeling one way or the other about Cohen's work in 'Place Beyond The Pines', which is such a strange film to begin with (Gosling and DeHaan's exceptional work notwithstanding) and I actually didn't recognize him in this until the end credits rolled. But with all that beautiful confidence, the humble swagger, it's absolutely the most charismatic performance I've seen from any male actor this year.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

How big was Nora Jane Noone's part? I've been a big fan since the Magdalene Sisters!

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrooooke

With such a quietly luminous star turn at the center, every single performance either big or small still leaves its imprint. Best ensemble of the year next to Spotlight. SAG, shame on you.

December 9, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Thank you for this post and for reminding me how rich this film is. It should be the film to beat for Picture, director, and adapted screenplay. I do not get the love for Spotlight over this. Brooklyn is memorable where Spotlight is mostly forgettable, save for Crudup, Tucci, and the two interviewed survivors (not included in the SAG ensemble list). Oh, right, that film is about men.

December 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermikey67

Saw it last night. Those boarding house scenes are just pure cinema magic

December 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Love, love, love this movie .. all were great in their roles and the simple story was deeply affecting.

December 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Thanks for the beautifully articulated reminder of what a great ensemble this movie featured.
The SAG nominating committee has a lot of splainin' to do. Up to now I've never been on board with Ronan. But she's almost miraculous here. I simply can't imagine more perfect casting in that role. And I certainly agree about Broadbent and Walters, both in extra-fine fettle. I think Eve Macklin is the actress who shares that lovely bathroom scene with Ronan, the one where she talks about the husband that walked out on her. The scene's so beautifully realized, an especially touching moment in a film that boasts a great many of them. And I must rave a little about Eileen O'Higgins as Nancy. Not just an incredibly pretty girl. But a sensitive and ever so likable actress. And more than anyone else in the film, she looks like she truly stepped out the 50's. Kathryn Grant perfected. Hope to see more from her in the coming years.

December 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKen

I also had to chime in on Emory Cohen. I don't know WHAT SORCERY this movie did because as much as I *hated* him in SMASH and *hated* him in Place Beyond the Pines I quite adored him in Brooklyn. Dark magicks is all I can come up with.

December 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I found Leo adorable in Smash.

December 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterIan

^^But his acting (and his character) were so bad. I didn't even realize it was the same actor till now.

December 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

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