The Sundance 2015 Film Festival ends this weekend and it has been another strong year for Irish filmmakers and Irish co-productions. Brooklyn, The Hallow, and Glasslands, in particular, have been very well received in Park City, Utah.
The period drama Brooklyn has received the highest praise: not surprising given the power houses (both Irish and not) involved. Based on the novel written by Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn was adapted for the screen by novelist-turned-script writer Nick Hornby. John Crowley, whose earlier work included Intermission, Boy A, Is Anybody There? and Closed Circuit, was the director. Irish actress, Saoirse Ronan, plays the lead character beautifully and is supported superbly by Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Waters and Jim Broadbent…to name but a few.
Set between Ireland and New York in the early 1950’s, the story line follows a young Irish woman’s coming of age while being pulled between the home she loves and the life she leads. Brooklyn received a standing ovation at the Eccles Theatre at Sundance when it premiered. Twenty-four hours later it started a distribution bidding war, which Fox Searchlight won, shortly thereafter.
As someone who’s left home (America) and started anew someplace else (Ireland), I felt the heartbreak and joy of Saoirse Ronan’s character deeply…so too, it seems, did my fellow audience members. Together we laughed, cried, gasped and enjoyed the film. Here’s what the press had to say about Brooklyn at Sundance:
“Brooklyn premiered at the Sundance Film Festival without much advance buzz. But when the lights at the Eccles Theatre in Park City came up two hours later to a rapturous standing ovation, it was clear that Sundance had just screened one of the best films of the year. Within 24 hours, Fox Searchlight defeated its rivals (including the Weinstein Co. and Focus Features) in a heated bidding war and landed “Brooklyn” for $9 million. That deal, the biggest at this year’s festival, also kicked off the Oscars 2016 race.” – Entertainment Weekly
“A robust romantic drama, rich in history and full of emotion, “Brooklyn” fills a niche in which the studios once specialized, using a well-read and respected novel as the grounds for a tenderly observed tear-jerker. With a classical, literate script from Nick Hornby unfussily interpreted by Crowley, the film satisfies the reason audiences of a certain age go to the movies in the first place: namely, to feel something”. – Variety
“…this movie is magical…In an increasingly cynical age of cinema—especially at a Sundance where it feels like every film is about people dying—it’s remarkable to see that romance can still connect with an audience. On the shuttle after the standing O at the screening, I’ve never heard so many people proclaim a movie their favorite of the fest.” – RoberEbert.com
“Classily and classically crafted in the best sense by director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby, this superbly acted romantic drama is set in the early 1950s and provides the feeling of being lifted into a different world altogether, so transporting is the film’s sense of time and place and social mores…this British-Canadian-Irish co production is splendidly decked out in every department, notably including Yves Belanger’s cinematography, Francois Seguin’s spot-on period production design, Odil Dicks-Mireaux’s lively costume design and Michael Brook’s evocative scoring”. – The Hollywood Reporter
“Brooklyn captures that bittersweet mix of excitement and longing really well, Crowley directing with patience and understatement. He’s helped immensely by his lead, Saoirse Ronan, who does wonderful work here—her Eilis isn’t always likable, she’s sometimes prickly and aloof, but she’s fully human, intelligent and determined and decent…the movie belongs wholly to Ronan, who at just 20 years old is such a remarkably poised and confident performer.” – Vanity Fair
There were many video interviews with the cast and crew of Brooklyn this past week. These are amongst the most interesting:
And, finally Anya Jaremko-Greenwold of Indiewire did a short but interesting interview with John Crowley. You can read it here.
The photos at the top of this blog post are courtesy of Sundance.org. In the collage: the photo from The Hallow was taken by Martin Maguire, the photo from Brooklyn was taken by Kerry Brown, and the photo from Glassland was taken by Pat Redmond. The photo single photo from Brooklyn was also taken by Kerry Brown.