June 2nd, 2023
MOVIE: BROOKLYN 45
STARRING: ANNE RAMSAY, LARRY FESSENDEN, JEREMY HOLM, RON E. RAINS
DIRECTED BY: TED GEOGHEGAN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The works of director Ted Geoghegan have never been what you expect. His first film We Are Still Here was a powerful debut that left audiences wondering what would be next. His sophomore effort Mohawk was a Civil War-era battle in the forest, showing audiences that his work was not stuck in one genre. His third film, Brooklyn 45 will shock viewers the most, not just because of spooks or scares, but because it subverts any expectations of the seance horror. The result is a welcome and inspired slice of the unconventional. It’s a challenge to the audience, which is what Geoghegan thrives on, trusting that the viewer will understand. Brooklyn 45 is a compact and dark chamber film, heated to a boiling point, and bursting with unpredictable characters.
The setting of Brooklyn 45 is post-WWII in New York, with a group of friends, all of them have served in the military, getting together after the loss of a loved one. The characters are Marla (Anne Ramsay), her husband Bob (Ron E. Rains), Major Archibald Stanton (Jeremy Holm), Major Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington), and the host Lt. Col. Clive Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden), who’s wife has recently passed. They have been asked to gather to remember her, have drinks, listen to the AM radio, and recall their military days. Or at least that’s what they thought they were doing. It’s not long until Clive is speaking about how he has gathered his friends to perform a seance to bring his darling wife back from the beyond.
If that were the only thing that Brooklyn 45 had going it would make for a short film. This is because as the ghosts start to rattle the walls, there is a new mystery that appears from a closet, a kidnapped woman (Kristina Klebe), who reveals that there was more than just a seance going on here. It’s within her reveal that the story changes, from ghosts of the grave coming back to the sins of war rising up from inside of everyone. We begin to see the dark souls of each character, their wounds, their fears, their anger, and their true selves. If ghosts don’t scare you, then wait till you meet the living.
From the acting perspective, it’s impossible to know which performance is the best, but my praise goes to Ramsay. Her work as Marla is the focal point of the story, perfectly portraying a woman that had a major impact in the war which led to her being injured in the fight. Ramsay has been a constant professional and Brooklyn 45 is the kind of material that allows her to shine. Her performance is one of the best of 2023. The other two great performances are Fessenden and Holm, both playing men that seem well on the outside but are traumatized on the inside. The narrative progresses like a more compact version of William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives. These are characters that witnessed the horrific atrocities of the Nazis, witnessed their friends die beside them, and came home with a new outlook on life. It’s exactly why Geoghegan wants to gather us in this room. The seance may be revealing the ghouls or goblins. The other people around them have their own story to tell.
It’s because of all the depth and a more methodical pace that made Brooklyn 45 nothing like what I was expecting. What it definitely has is one of the best screenplays of 2023, where Geoghegan has put his heart and soul into the material. The performances are all strong, the set design impeccable, and the costume work is spot on. There’s a lot to love about Brooklyn 45. It’s another surprise from director Ted Geoghegan. His movies are always a mystery. You never know what you will see on the other side.
BROOKLYN 45 IS NOW PLAYING ON SHUDDER AND IS PLAYING AT SELECT THEATERS.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady