Kenneth Branagh gets personal in this bittersweet autobiographical drama, set in his hometown in Northern Ireland in 1969, at the advent of the Troubles. Buddy (Jude Hill) is nine years old, and a popular figure as he makes his way home through the neighbourhood. He turns a corner, and everything changes: an angry Catholic mob is protesting the Protestant unionists. This spiraling sectarian unrest sends shockwaves through Buddy’s tight-knit working class family, Pa and Ma (Jamie Dornan, from Fifty Shades of Grey, and Caitríona Balfe, from the TV series Outlander) and beloved grandparents (Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds). For young Buddy, it is a rude awakening, the end of innocence.

Written by Branagh during the first wave of COVID-19 last year, Belfast is a coming-of-age film which resonates with our own times and the sudden loss of security which overtook the world with the onset of the pandemic. But there is a lot of warmth and humour too, and even though it’s shot in black and white by Branagh’s regular DP, Haris Zambarloukos (Thor; Murder on the Orient Express), there are also flashes of fabulous colour—notably when young Buddy escapes to the movies and sees (what else?) One Million Years BC.

People’s Choice Award, TIFF 2021

Director Icon Director
Kenneth Branagh

 
Cast
Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Jude Hill
Producer Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik, Tamar Thomas
Screenwriter Kenneth Branagh
Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos
Editor Úna Ní Dhonghaíle
Production Design Jim Clay
UK 2021 97 min.

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