Mayhem through the eyes of an innocent


It’s no question how Belfast received numerous awards after seeing it on the big screen. The film plays a chord in Kenneth Branagh’s heart as it is his birthplace in Northern Ireland. Belfast allowed Branagh to receive the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay and the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film. The semi-autobiographical tale of Belfast is portrayed through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy, Buddy (Jude Hill), who closely shadows the experiences of a young Kenneth Branagh.


The film indulges us with an abrupt burst of colors which transcends into a black-and-white film, translating the present into the summer of 1969. It offers a crafty approach that shows the comparison of the then and now of Belfast.


The people of Belfast are penurious but contemptuous. Buddy and his older brother Will (Lewis McAskie, Here Before) live with their Ma (Catriona Balfe, Outlander) along with their Pop (Ciará Hinds, Justice League) and Granny (Judi Dench, Skyfall) while their Pa (Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey) spends most days in London for work.


The Troubles, led by a nutcase named Billy (Colin Morgan), fuels chaos in the streets of Belfast and a feud between Catholics and protestants arise. Amidst the conflict, the film distinguishes itself from a politically dominant story. Instead, Branagh illustrates the joy amidst the struggle with a mixture of sorrow and robust humor.


Superb performances delivered by Ciará Hinds and Judi Dench have them both nominated for Oscars as Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, and Jamie Dornan earns a ton of the best reviews for his career. Belfast, showing off Dornan's ability to sing, reminds us of the actor's previous band, Sons of Jim, and his shared ownership of the record label Doorstep Records. As for the phenomenal Jude Hill, he steals the spotlight on his first feature film debut and has won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Performer. It’s safe to assume that the young lad is set for a promising career.


The film is cunningly directed in a way that makes you feel like you are in the same room, indulging in the details of the youngster’s life while his loving Irish family is faced with issues and obstacles with violence lingering in the background. Ma and Pa are seen arguing in whispers through cracks and hidings. Buddy is always seen on the opposite side of the frame, just out of view of his parents. This cinematic technique is present throughout the duration of the film to give us a grasp of how Branagh struggled through the skirmish.


Matched with the classical soundtrack produced by another Belfast boy, Van Morrison. The mesmerizing tune clearly captures the Belfast of Branagh and leaves the audience mesmerized even after leaving theaters. Belfast intentionally lacks the portrayal of the gravity of the structural problem the city was in. Everything else was whimsical and kept in a closet to consistently keep the tone of an unsophisticated childhood.


With an overall Metascore of 75, Belfast is remarkable and sensational, it’s undeniably a keepsake. It’s a heartfelt story with history and a touch of innocence that has easily made Belfast on top of black-and-white films.

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