‘Brooklyn’ editor Jake Roberts on overcoming challenges of ‘three-handed romantic story’ (Podcast)

On paper, “Brooklyn,” the story of a young Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) torn between two men (Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson) on two different continents, sounds like your typical love story. That’s until you realize that Gleeson’s character doesn’t even make an appearance until the last 30 minutes of the movie, by which time Cohen has already made a solid impression in viewer’s hearts. Yet “Brooklyn” isn’t just about a love triangle: rather, it’s about a young woman’s coming of age when she takes the long journey to a new world. And in our recent conversation (listen below), editor Jake Roberts explains how he and director John Crowley tackled this unique structure.

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“The thing about the film is that it’s last 20 minutes run about an act later than it would otherwise,” he reveals, “because she meets Tony (Cohen) about the same amount of time into the movie that you normally would, but without the bit in Ireland and the boat trip beforehand. So everything’s on a kind of slight remove from the fact that she has to make that journey first before the sort of classical structure of what would be a three-handed romantic story takes place.”

Roberts adds, “That presented a challenge, because just in terms of the screen-time he comes first, and therefore you have your affections for him first. It was always a worry that you ask the audience to engage in this relationship with Tony, and then you don’t want them to hate Ellis when she allows herself to have her hand held by someone else. On the one hand, you do everything you can to make the audience invest in that relationship, but on the other hand you know you’re about to take it away to some extent.”

One of the tricks the editor used was to, “slow the film down a bit,” when Ellis returns to Ireland, “so that even though the scene-count and the amount of time she spends with Jim (Gleeson) is significantly less than Tony, it’s allowed to [not only] take on a bit more weight in terms of its own gravitational force, but also to give her more time to not forget Tony, but for his memories to become foggier.”

Roberts received an Irish Film and Television Award nomination for his work on “Starred Up” (2014). Check out our full interview below for more about his work on “Brooklyn.”

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“Brooklyn” photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures 

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