Young hearts run free on opposite sides of the Atlantic in John Crowley’s handsome romance, adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby from Colm Toibin’s novel of the same name.
Set in the early 1950s, Brooklyn harks back to a bygone era of restrictive social mores and is anchored by a tour de force performance from Saoirse Ronan as an innocent abroad, whose journey from County Wexford to the towering skyscrapers of New York coincides with her awkward transition to womanhood.
The 21-year-old Irish-American actress doesn’t hit a false emotional note, contrasting the naivete of her heroine’s early days away from home with the self-assurance of an immigrant, who finally realises that she belongs.
Sweeping production and costume design evoke the era with aplomb, accentuated by Michael Brook’s gorgeous orchestral score.
Equally appealing are Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson as rival suitors for the heroine’s affections.
Both actors kindle smouldering onscreen chemistry with Ronan, so we’re undecided, like her, which of them she should choose as her sanctuary.
Eilis Lacey (Ronan) is a shrinking violet in Enniscorthy.
She lives with her mother (Jane Brennan) and older sister, Rose (Fiona Glascott), and earns a meagre crust – and withering rebukes – at the local shop run by the imperious Miss Kelly (Brid Brennan).
Thanks to Rose, Eilis secures a one-way ticket to a brighter future in New York.
Holy man Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) places Eilis at a boarding house for single girls run by Mrs Kehoe (Julie Walters), who clucks over the lodgers, including Patty (Emily Bett Rickards), Diana (Eve Macklin), Miss McAdam (Mary O’Driscoll) and Sheila (Nora-Jane Noone).
Eilis’s homesickness fades gradually and she excels as a salesgirl at a department store under stylish floor manager Miss Fortini (Jessica Pare).
She also sparks a tender romance with a handsome plumber called Tony (Cohen).
Painfully innocent to courtship rituals, Eilis turns to the other girls at the boarding house and they advise her to choose her bathing costume carefully for an impending trip to Coney Island beach.
“It’s the most Tony will have seen of you and you don’t want to put him off,” they cackle.
The lovebirds marry in secret, but when Eilis returns home to Enniscorthy, local boy Jim Farrell (Gleeson) unexpectedly turns her head and makes her hanker for small-town life.
Brooklyn is a classic, old-fashioned love triangle, which combines elegant storytelling, strong performances and swoonsome visuals.
Gentle comedy, courtesy of Walters in fine lip-pursing form, underpins the anguished vacillations of the heart and stokes dramatic tension as Eilis dithers between her two paramours.
Toibin’s lyrical dialogue trips off the tongue in Hornby’s script, succinctly capturing the ebb and flow of life for young dreamers, who come to realise that home isn’t necessarily where you were born.
A smorgasbord of unflattering culinary adjectives could happily garnish John Wells’s drama set against the fiery backdrop of London’s fine-dining scene.
Half-baked, tepid, underseasoned – all are deserved for a film that asks us to root for a broken man with nothing to lose, then hands him redemption on a silver platter.
“I gave up drinking as well as sniffing, snorting, injecting, licking yellow frogs
. . . and women,” explains the protagonist casually.
Relaying his spectacular fall from grace in a haze of booze, drugs and wanton womanising via expository dialogue might be dramatically expedient, but it robs us of the opportunity to sympathise.
It’s like joining a rollercoaster halfway round the track and missing out on that initial steep incline and sickening descent that sets the pulse racing.
Screenwriter Steven Knight, who painted vivid portraits of the capital in Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises, fails to turn up the heat on his thinly sketched characters, barely achieving a simmer as allegiances fray in pursuit of an elusive third Michelin star.
At his peak, Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) was a rock star of the culinary scene at a restaurant in Paris led by legendary chef Jean-Pierre.
Then he threw it all away, wrecking relationships with many of the people who helped him to ascend those dizzy heights including Jean-Pierre’s daughter, Anne Marie (Alicia Vikander).
Adam seeks atonement in New Orleans, where he shucks a million oysters, then returns to London, where he forces his way into the kitchen of a failing restaurant owned by the father of his old maitre d’, Tony (Daniel Bruhl).
Arrogant as usual, Adam promises to turn the eaterie around and recruits a talented team, including former Parisian colleagues Michel (Omar Sy) and Max (Riccardo Scamarcio), brilliant sous chef Helene (Sienna Miller) and wet-behind-the-ears David (Sam Keeley).
Demons of the past return to haunt Adam and he contends with self-doubt as well as loan sharks and the people he gleefully offended, including sharp-tongued food critic Simone Forth (Uma Thurman) and rival chef Reece (Matthew Rhys).
Burnt has all of the ingredients of a tasty yarn, including a strong lead performance from Cooper and orgasmic shots of food preparation.
Alas, something is amiss in director John Wells’s kitchen, because his finished dish is simplistic and bland, lacking any surprising flavours to keep us engaged.
London thrums with vitality through his lens and Emma Thompson enjoys an animated supporting role as the analyst who helps Adam acknowledge his insecurities.
Time and again, the chef loudly berates his staff for sloppiness, telling them that if their food falls short of perfection, it should be thrown away and prepared afresh. Had Wells and screenwriter Knight followed this same advice, their picture might never have been made.