Film scores

Soundtrack review: Brooklyn (Michael Brooke – 2015)

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“Brooklyn” tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within. An Irish influenced movie scored by Michael Brooke? Yes please. I’ve rarely found a score by him I didn’t like.

I am very fond of the Celtic traditional sound. It might actually be my favorite sound next to the synth and the one which brings a lot of nostalgia. There’s something about the sweeping chime of a flute or the quiet beat of a bodhrans that makes me dream. Oh and the violin, forgot about that. Michael Brooke makes use of that wonderful instrument in the heartfelt opening moments of the score. The music has y attention from the get go because of this quiet and almost mournful tone which almost makes me think of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ music.

This mood works for a few minutes but I am expecting something more from this score. I have to say that as the score progresses I am getting a little disappointed about the lack of the true Irish sound. The violin is the only instrument featured and the sound feels more like American western. I have set different expectations and I was at least imagining that the cues dealing with homesickness would bring some of that Celtic vibe. The violin and piano are not enough because, as I say, they make me think of scores inspired by the American wilderness.

“Frankie’s song” finally brings me home. It’s a purely traditional Irish tune which is only a lonesome island in the piano ocean of “Brooklyn”. I just need to adjust my mind set because the music is truly enjoyable and it’s a shame to dwell on failed expectations. The music slowly grew on me and made me a believer in the sound it never strayed from. I should take this score for what it was: a subtle, quiet and melodic elegy which doesn’t try to extort feelings form the listener and burns slowly in a fire made of strings and piano keys. If you enjoy slow burning autumn scores and you have patience to discover what they have to say, you will enjoy “Brooklyn”.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 15 / 39

Album excellence: 39%

Highlights:

Packing For The Voyage

Letter From Home

Frankie’s Song

Confrontation

Goodbye Eilis

End Credits

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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