Belfast

Belfast ★★★★

Ya, this is my shit. I adored Belfast.

I find myself drawing a lot of parallels with this film - the Irish Brady Bunch dynamic of My Left Foot, the coming-of-age-in-a-war-zone story of Jojo Rabbit, or the strained working class relationship we see in something like Minari. This is because nothing in Belfast is entirely new, but what makes it feel so special is Kenneth Branagh’s heart and clear personal connection to what he’s putting on the screen. It’s a love letter to family, those who struggled in Ireland in the 60s, and his experience with film told through the lens of a child. The latter was especially impactful for me, as the films and plays they see are the only thing shown in color, a fantastical escape for all of them during such hopeless times. It’s magical, it’s tragic, it will pull at your heartstrings (just the right amount), and it’s downright hilarious.

As much as I loved it though, Belfast is not a perfect film - its slice of life structure makes it drag the tiniest bit at times, and what begins as a story centering on Buddy gradually becomes less focused, sometimes to its own downfall. What holds it at a solid 4 for me is the camera work and decisions Kenneth Branagh made with the cinematography. Every performance is also phenomenal - Judi Dench is just lovely ugh. Jude Hill is magnetic. He latches onto every moment and doesn’t so much as flinch. I’m considering doing a video for it so I’m gonna stop there but yes yes I loved this I’m excited!!! Well worth the watch!!

2021 Ranked (with recency bias in full effect)

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