A nine-year-old boy must chart a path towards adulthood through a world that has suddenly turned upside down. His stable and loving community and everything he thought he understood about life is changed forever but joy, laughter, music and the formative magic of the movies remain.

To stand in opposition to your peers in adverse situations is a very difficult thing to do. Human nature tends to have us wanting to conform when pressed by others in intense situations, it’s a means of survival. So, to stand up for what is right when it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable takes a great amount of courage. Not many are willing to do it on their own, but those who are, those are the people you want by your side. Whether the stance is monumental or relatively small, that’s a person we should appreciate.

“Cash or commitment.”

From the mind and life of Kenneth Branagh, Belfast is a family drama that delivers hope and joy in times of madness. Set against the backdrop of an unforeseen Irish civil war in 1969 between Catholics and Protestants, this is a film that urges you to appreciate the little moments and the people around you because things can become dire very rapidly. It wants you to stand up for what’s right, fight for who you love, and never stop living even things get rough. It’s a story that is very personal and is handled with great care and attention to detail. Presented in a crisp digital black and white, the film transports us back to a simpler time but yet still has relevant problems. Told mostly from the point of view of young Buddy, with him we ponder, why is this happening? Will my family be safe? Does the girl at school like me back? And what’s going on with Ma and Pa? Not to mention, the family is on the brink of financial collapse while they are also faced with pressure to out their Protestant neighbors. With its themes of family, love, and resilience, and messaging of tolerance, this is a film that is easy to love. The cast is amazing, the writing is excellent, and the editing is superb. This story has the mood of say, Do the Right Thing and the tone of Jojo Rabbit, so what’s not to love. The film is rife with wit, heart, and we know I really dig Irish accents. This a perfect film for the family and I enjoyed it a great deal. Its rewatchability is high.

(L to R) Jamie Dornan as “Pa”, Ciarán Hinds as “Pop”, Jude Hill as “Buddy”, and Judi Dench as “Granny” in director Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST, a Focus Features release. Credit: Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Pacing & Pop

The pacing of the film is great. It quickly sets the scene and places you at the beginning of a civil war and grabs your attention at every turn. What popped for me was the character, Buddy. His love for life and wonderment of everything around him felt refreshing and is a joy to watch.

Jamie Dornan (left) stars as “Pa” and Caitriona Balfe (right) stars as “Ma” in director Kenneth Branagh’s BELFAST, a Focus Features release. Credit: Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Characters & Chemistry

The film stars Golden Globe nominee Caitríona Balfe, Academy Award® winner Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, and introduces the ten-year-old Jude Hill

This cast was such a joy to watch. The young newcomer, Jude Hill as Buddy is my favorite. We don’t get to see children truly be children consistently in film. They are filled with all the questions, wonderment, and surprisingly witty retorts, and that’s exactly what we get from Hill. He gave the film its charm and exuberance. Jaime Dornan as Pa is special. He is fearless, charming, not afraid to stand up to others, and can carry quite the tune. His performance is both subtle and commanding. Last but definitely not least is the outstanding performance of Caitriona Balfe as Ma. While Jude Hill’s performance is my favorite, Balfe’s is by far the standout and the heart of the film. The chemistry in the film is fantastic and is the reason why it plays so well.

Belfast releases in theaters on November 12, 2021. Stay safe and enjoy.

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Kenneth Branagh

Producers: Kenneth Branagh, Laura Berwick, Becca Kovacik, and Tamar Thomas

Editor: Úna Ní Dhonghaíle,

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1h 37m

Rating: 4 out of 5

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