Brooklyn tells the story of a young woman’s journey immigrating from Ireland to New York City in the 1950’s. The film is about her struggle with homesickness and starting her new life which blossoms into a new love. When family struggles pull her back to Ireland she must choose which life she wants. The simple and beautiful score by Michael Brook is a true delight that fills in the pockets where it’s needed.
Brook didn’t take the easy route and didn’t make this an “Irish” score. Sure the music carries the heritage of our central character, but it’s very much as unique and born of her versus a blanketing sound of her country of origin. The score is simply carried by piano, strings and even a banjo. Structurally it’s made up of short tracks that act sort of like waves that roll in to fill in narrative support when needed. Usually I enjoy a score that can weave continuously to result in longer track times, but here I never felt it hurt the storytelling. There is a fragility and delicateness to the music, it certainly has a personality. You’ll notice the music gets a bit more full-bodied in the second half, the strings fill the air a bit more versus the lone violin towards the beginning. And that is the key to the score’s success. There is this growth, a push of emotional momentum that finally culminates wonderfully in the final moments. The climax occurs in a gorgeous 5-minute track, and the fact that we continually built towards it is why it’s so effective. The music’s more subdued and fragile nature prevents it from ever becoming too lush or melodramatic, which can happen in a period drama. In the end, it’s a very resonating journey that should stick with you for some time.
Michael Brook demonstrates amazing storytelling here by crafting a wonderful journey that is born from within the main character. There is beauty in simplicity, and here is an example of that. The score’s approach of short tracks that fill in pockets of storytelling to culminate in a big swell at the end is great, and makes Brooklyn a small yet brightly shining gem.
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