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Soundtrack Review: #Brooklyn

The beautiful score for Brooklyn perfectly matches the film's delicate charm.

Review by Matt Cummings

Music isn't the only thing ingredient to making a good film, but it's an important element in crafting its tone. Composer Michael Brook's score for Brooklyn does just that, taking us to far away places and times that while strengthening the film's chances for a Best Picture nomination.

Told through the eyes of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), Brooklyn tells of a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950's New York. After a difficult voyage and period of adjustment, Ellis is swept up in a relationship with a working Italian (Emory Cohen), who instantly falls in love with Ellis' sweet charm. But when her new life is disrupted by tragic news from home, Ellis returns to find that she might not be so ready to leave.

Composer Michael Brook grants us with a glimpse into Ellis' world in different ways, from the playful Seasick to the gorgeous Rose Dies and Mourning. Many of Brook's pieces aren't long, but they provide important markers for the strong storytelling and help to elevate the already compelling performance by Ronan. We've seen examples this year of how shortened tracks can sometimes leave us wanting more, but in Brooklyn that problem never materializes. Letter to Home, Things are Looking Up, and Proposal (perhaps my favorite) arrive completely formed, and accompany the gorgeous imagery behind Director John Crowley's steady hand.

There is of course a nice selection of Irish songs and instrumentals here as well, supported by Casadh An Tsúgáin (Frankie's Song) by Iarla Ó Lionáird. In the film it works perfectly to tell the plight of the immigrant homeless, and even without any visuals the effect is just as powerful. Others like Tony's Letter also reflect the film's deep Irish roots, both in instrumentation and in its beat. But in the end, this score wins due to its deep orchestral movements, including The Pull of Home and two more of my favorites, Packing for the Voyage and Goodbye Ellis.

Lakeshore Records has done a fine job producing these 24 tracks, and Brooks' adept compositions and execution simply make the film better. It does what any good score should: provide important tonal markers while elevating the experience of Ellis' plight and successes. I couldn't recommend Brooklyn: Original Motion Picture Score more, and hope Brooks receives strong consideration at this year's Oscars.

Brooklyn: Original Motion Picture Score is available now on CD and digital download.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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