Based on Kenneth Branagh’s childhood, Belfast is an adorable little flick with laughs, tears, drama, good acting, and an unhappy musical bond.
There is one thing about Kenneth Branagh Belfast this is objectively bad – the choice to highlight the work of Van Morrison. Artistically, it makes sense that Branagh chose a Northern Irish musician to compose a film about Northern Ireland in the 1960s. But at the same time that Morrison was composing the original score for the film, he was broadcasting anti-mask conspiracy theories. , anti-vaccine and anti-Semitic. Whereas we need masks and vaccines to be safe in theaters and one of the BelfastThe main messages of is against religious bigotry, the association feels doubly unhappy.
This only source of frustration aside, Belfast is a soft film. It’s an interesting slice of ordinary life during extraordinary times with a strong set of actors. There are laughs, tears, moments of intense drama and a wonderful leading performance by 10-year-old Jude Hill in his first role in a feature film. Press and industry screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival rarely end with massive applause, but Belfastscreening did. That’s not to say it was the best film of the festival, but it was definitely one of the nicest.
Belfast beings in 1969, showing that the unrest began in Northern Ireland. Buddy (Hill) grows up in a Protestant family trying to avoid growing violence between their Protestant and Catholic neighbors. Buddy is more focused on his efforts to be successful in school and impress a girl he loves. As the city of Belfast turns into a war zone, it becomes more and more likely that he will have to relocate. Her father (Jaime Dornan) is ready to go right away, while her mother (Caitriona Balfe) insists on staying. Grandma (Judi Dench) and Grandpa (Ciaran Hinds) provide moral support to Buddy as he navigates this difficult terrain. It’s all more low-key territory than the bombast of Shakespeare and Branagh’s blockbuster films, although it can work some intensity during the riot scenes in the film.
Belfast highlights what pop culture makes an impression on Buddy, including Star Trek, A million years BC, Chitty chitty bang bang, A Christmas Carol, and Marvel Thor comics (a nod to Branagh’s time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). While most Belfast is shot in black and white, the films and plays that Buddy and his family see are shown in color to highlight their transportable nature. This focus on the “magic of films” recalls the tastes of Paradiso Cinema.
The other great movie comparison that’s inevitably going to pop up when it comes to Belfast is that of Alfonso Cuaron Rome. Many of the parallels between the two are admittedly superficial: they are both black and white and based on the childhood memories of their directors. While Belfast is a film more focused on a child’s point of view, it also takes into account the privileges of its directors and what it means to be part of an economic, racial or religious class that oppresses others.
Will Belfast to win Oscars? It’s easy to see him get plenty of nominations for his actors, all of them very good, and for Branagh, which is a significant artistic comeback after years of mediocre blockbusters. Judi Dench is responsible for the film’s most successful tearful moment as well as many of his biggest laughs. Some call it a favorite for Best Picture, for which it would make a harmless but not particularly deserving winner in the face of more substantial and satisfying competition.
Belfast opens in theaters on November 12.
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