Ireland is well represented at this year’s London Film Festival.
Lenny Abrahamson’s Room and Jerzy Skolimowski’s Polish/Irish co-production 11 Minutes are in competition at the festival. They are joined by the Northern Irish films High-Rise, by Ben Wheatley, the documentary I Am Belfast, by Mark Cousins, and The Survivalist, by Stephen Fingleton, as well as Gala screenings for John Crowley’s Brooklyn and Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster. Three Irish short films also feature at the festival.
Irish guests at the festival include Brooklyn director John Crowley and Room director Lenny Abrahamson, as well as actors Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender, and Saoirse Ronan and writer Colm Toíbín.
Overall, 241 films from 57 countries will play at 16 London cinemas over the 12 days from 7-18 October.
Screenings schedules and tickets are available on the BFI website, www.bfi.org.uk.
Here Sarah Lafferty reviews John Crowley’s Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is a triumph to make you laugh and cry
Brooklyn is a brilliant adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s award winning novel of the same name, which genuinely captures an essential element of the Irish psyche.
Since the famine, Ireland has sent millions of its own all over the world and this film evokes every emotion between heartache and glorious adventure.
An all-star cast brings Nick Hornby’s screenplay to life with Saoirse Ronan (pictured) excellently portraying Eilis who’s forced to immigrate to America.
She has to deal with a demanding store manager who consistently berates her, while seeing her cry when reading a letter from home is heartbreaking.
Oscar winner Jim Broadbent plays a kind priest in New York who encourages her to further her education, while her landlady Mrs. Keogh played by Julie Walters brings warmth and discipline to her life.
There’s a scene where the female lodgers are bickering amongst themselves, but with sharp wit Mrs Keogh silences the girls.
The major achievement of this film is capturing the mood in two different countries. When in Ireland, we feel that warm communal sentiment which is accentuated by the beautifully filmed Irish landscape.
Also the actors speaking in Wexford accents creates an added level of authenticity. Likewise New York in the Fifties looks magical in an industrial way, and there’s that feeling of a city finding its identity through a wave of immigrants chasing the American dream.
At times you’ll feel you’re sitting in a Wexford pub or around Mrs. Keogh’s dinner table.
A special mention must go to Domhnall Gleeeson (pictured) who produces a career best performance as a publican’s son called Jim Farrell.
Eilis returns to Ireland due to a family tragedy, and although married to an Italian- American, she’s uncontrollably attracted to Farrell. Her mother claims he’s “a catch for someone,” and so we see two amazing performances which do justice to Tóibín’s fantastic characters.
Eilis must choose between a man whom she loves from her native home, or her loving husband in the land of opportunity. With regard to Hornby’s adaptation, fans of the book won’t be disappointed.
It’s a loyal conversion and captures the atmospheric power of Tóibín’s writing. However there’s one very obvious change in a key scene towards the end of the film between Eilis and her mother.
I would argue that Tóibín’s original dialogue was superior, but this skilful screenplay gives director John Crowley the perfect foundation to create a deeply moving piece of cinema. Brooklyn is a wonderful showcase of Irish talent and it’ll pull on the heartstrings of anyone who’s moved away from home or watched loved ones go.
I recommend seeing this movie with family or friends, because you’ll laugh and cry together as you feel the sorrows and joys of life.
Brooklyn screens at the 2015 London Film Festival. Find tickets here: www.bfi.org.uk