Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds
Rated: PG-13 for some violence and strong language
Runtime: 1h 38m
Country: United Kingdom
Available on: Various VOD platforms
"A young boy and his working-class Belfast family experience the tumultuous late 1960s."
You might like this if you like: Dramas, Comedies, Dark Comedies, Kenneth Branagh, Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds
Jude Hill in 'Belfast' (2021)
What drew me to ‘Belfast’ was director Kenneth Branagh whose work I’ve been interested in behind and in front of the camera as he’s a fantastic theatre actor. I thought it was quite fitting they chose him to direct the first ‘Thor’ film in 2011. More recently we’ve been seeing him in these great minor roles for some of Christopher Nolan’s pictures and even came back for a voice cameo at the beginning of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.
I had no idea what I was in for when sitting down to watch ‘Belfast’ other than it might be about Belfast, Ireland. In first few opening minutes my mind went to Taika Waititi’s ‘Jojo Rabbit’ which won him some Oscars in 2019, but this had a different feel to it which I really enjoyed and felt it even had some Wes Anderson moments. Despite having its dark moments, it felt like a film about peacefulness and joy and had this sweet underlying tone throughout, in part mostly due to the wonderful lead actor (who I’d never seen before); Jude Hill.
Caitriona Balfe (left) & Jamie Dorman (right) in 'Belfast' (2021)
Caitriona Balfe was magnificent in this who I wasn’t familiar with. Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds were the only recognizable ones for me.
Maybe I saw the filmmaker in Branagh through Jude Hill’s character, but I always have a likening to movies about movies. This isn’t necessarily one, but our lead is obsessed with the cinema so that was something I was immediately drawn to and thought added a sweet and imaginative side to the story of continuing to enjoy life even if it’s collapsing around you. Not saying the kid was supposed to be doing more to change his situation, he just needed to be allowed to be a kid.
A beautiful and touching little film that I will gladly put on again and get lost in the world of Buddy’s Belfast.
If I had to complain about one thing though, is once again, this years films that are being looked at and watched most are lacking such a range in diversity when it comes to people of color. I get they’re historical at times, but we also need to choose different stories to tell for the times we’re living in. As much as I enjoyed this little picture, I don’t see how it’s helping create more opportunities for people who haven’t had them before.
Written by Sam Gall on Dec 21, 2021
CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0
"'Belfast' is not just a movie photographed in black and white, but a story told that way - the Troubles as coming-of-age narrative, a thing happening in the background while a young boy reckons with bickering parents and how to talk to girls." - Jason Bailey, Crooked Marquee
"Gorgeously shot (Haris Zambarloukos) B&W footage, with exquisite lighting and ample portrait-like closeups, makes this memoir eye-catching and enchanting." - Dwight Brown, National Newspaper Publishers Association
"One could fault Branagh, one supposes, for not painting a grimmer, more naturalistic portrait of his problematic birthplace, but his mission is not to recreate childhood as history, but rather as a highly selective source of one's artistic inspiration." - John Anderson, America Magazine
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