Belfast

Kenneth Branagh’s coming-of-age dramedy adds little to the genre
Universal Pictures
by
ABR Arts 31 January 2022

Belfast

Kenneth Branagh’s coming-of-age dramedy adds little to the genre
Universal Pictures
by
ABR Arts 31 January 2022
A still from Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh (photograph by Rob Youngson/© 2021 Focus Features, LLC)
A still from Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh (photograph by Rob Youngson/© 2021 Focus Features, LLC)

On the sunny streets of Belfast in 1969, nine-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill) fights imaginary dragons with a wooden sword and a shield made from the lid of a garbage bin. When his Ma calls him home for tea, he races through the neighbourhood, bright-eyed and carefree. But the afternoon idyll is quickly shattered by a small army of Protestant rioters laying siege to the street, smashing windows and firebombing cars in a targeted attempt to weed out any remaining Catholic residents. As the mob approaches, the camera orbits Buddy in captivating slow motion, his sword and shield rendered useless and childish in the face of this real-world violence. That is, until Ma uses the bin lid to deflect actual projectiles as she shepherds her boy safely into their house. It’s a dazzling opening sequence, and the perfect summary of Belfast’s colliding themes of childhood innocence and social upheaval. The only problem with this scene is the high bar it sets – it offers a level of stylistic quality and narrative clarity that the film never quite reaches again.

Comment (1)

  • Very tiresome and hugely disappointing film. Too much to be carried by a child narrator.
    Posted by Barbara G
    02 February 2022

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