Belfast Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I wasn’t overly aware of Belfast until a couple of months ago when the award films started to rear their heads and see what was going to be the front runners. Belfast was one that took that lead early on, and despite losing a bit of that buzz, it still looks certain to pick up nominations in a few weeks when The Academy announces the nominees.

Belfast is based on the real events that director Kenneth Branagh lived through during his childhood in the Northern Ireland capital city. Set in 1969, the film takes place during the Protestant vs Catholic conflict at the time known as The Troubles. Buddy (Jude Hill) is an innocent young boy just trying to live his life with his family and trying not to get caught up in the war.

This film won’t be for everyone. Despite coming in with a 98 minute run time, it feels a lot longer. Something I don’t necessarily mind, especially when watching in a cinema, people will likely struggle with this one watching at home with some scenes being very speechy being the moments that people will lose interest.

It’s very clearly a love letter from Branagh to his family and upbringing, and the city he was a child in. That love very much comes across in the direction. Branagh has been around for a long time, particularly known for his Shakespeare adaptations in the 90s, he has since turned in impressive films such as Cinderella, Thor and Murder on the Orient Express, proving he can do the big films, with now returning to something much smaller and the first film he has written in 15 years. It’s clearly a passion project for Branagh so the attention to detail is high to make sure he gets this right, and U think he hits the nail on the head.

Black and white films can often be off putting for a younger audience and general audiences, but true cinema goers, aren’t worried about that, especially when it’s shot so well. But what was something that particularly worked for me was the actual use of colour. It’s used a couple of times throughout the film and really hit me when it was used.

The cast do a solid job, the strongest of the bunch for me was Jamie Dornan. He has struggled to shake the 50 Shades of Grey, in the same way that people still talk about Robert Pattison and Twilight. Dornan’s performance’s have been on the up, I haven’t watched either of the shows people particularly talk about when it comes to his best performances (The Fall and The Tourist). As someone else who was born in Belfast, it was probably an easy sell for him to get onboard with the film, as something he would’ve grown up hearing about and living through as a very young boy.

Overall, Belfast is a strong entry love letter to the Northern Irish city and it’s people, the passion project for Branagh hits and lands, but won’t be for everyone. But to enjoy the way it was clearly intended to be seen, watch in the cinema while you still can if you think it might be for you.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

What did you think of Belfast? And what do you think are the film’s Oscar chances?

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