Deeply intimate and expertly acted, especially from young breakout star Jude Hill, Belfast is Kenneth Branagh’s best film to date.
Loosely based on Branagh’s childhood experiences, Belfast follows a working class family through the eyes of their young son (Hill) as religious violence torments the Northern Ireland capital in the late 1960s. Hill’s innocence is incredibly captivating and immediately sets a warmhearted tone for a film that balances the tension of the time with youthful promise. In his first role, Hill absolutely steals the show. Catriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan are flawless in their roles as parents (the latter has never been better) while Dame Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds performances ground the drama through their characters’ focus on reflection and hope. It all plays out in black and white, a beautiful vessel for transporting the audience to the time depicted that works well with the confluence of Belfast’s score with simplistic, yet riveting visuals.
Belfast serves as Branagh’s ode to the past, a revisiting of the events and people that shaped his childhood while also highlighting the role that cinema played in his life from early on. It never once feels revisionist, as many similar films do, and the film ultimately will resonate with all looking towards the future for an escape from their current conditions. Belfast exudes charm and is sure to be one of, if not the actual frontrunner for next year’s Oscars.
Belfast hits limited theaters on November 12th, 2021.
Photo from IMDb