Navigating all the emotional turbulence magnificently, John Crowley's film is a richly observed tale about a young woman's tenuous emergence into both a startling new culture and her own awkward adulthood. Anchored by the heartbreakingly real performance of Saoirse Ronan as Eilis, the newly minted New Yorker by way of Ireland in 1952, "Brooklyn" traces all the usual setups of such a film (homesickness, tragedy, young love) and then proceeds to defy commonplace logic and craft a film that's absorbing and luminous despite its very classical roots. The relationship between Ronan and Italian boyfriend Tony emits a certain wild innocence reminiscent of Eva Saint Marie and Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront". They're that good together. But it's Ronan's face and eyes that carry the film, often holding the camera's gaze as the world and its uncontrollable impulses of love, regret, confusion and expectation bounce off her.
Infuriating is not normally the adjective one would apply towards one of the year's best films, but it fits Tom McCarthy's "Spotlight". Raised in the Catholic faith, I'm not the most devout practitioner these days, but it still serves as a guiding force in my life to try and do right. Watching the fictional rendering of the 2001 Boston Globe journalist team that brought to light the systematic issue of child abuse by priests for decades, "Spotlight" is a crackling, intelligent journey littered with amazing performances from top to bottom. In fact, some of the characterizations by actors in single scenes (such as now adult victims played by Neil Huff or Michael Creighton) reverberate long after they're gone and provide articulate points of reference for the evil committed years ago. There's no fancy camera work. The pacing is taut and every inflection or eye twitch (especially from Mark Ruffalo) suggest just as much internal intelligence as outward. This is simply great ensemble filmmaking. And the part that got to me the most- watching the way Rachel McAdam's beloved and devout grandmother slyly asks for a glass of water upon reading the story her daughter helped to break. The victims of the actual abuse deserve the closure, but "Spotlight" also reveals the abuse of trust penetrates worldwide.
Oh those Germans. First "Run Lola Run" and now this. Full thoughts on Dallas Film Now.
Like an Arabian Robert Louis Stevenson adventure story. Very good stuff. More shameless self promotion at Dallas Film Now.