Going into Belfast I had heard mixed things, some of you loved it while others, well, less so. With all the Oscar buzz around it I was scared I’d feel underwhelmed by it and thus, when I sat down to watch it, there was a certain level of skepticism at first…however as the film progressed and the story and characters grew on me, it’s one I turned out to really enjoy!
Kenneth Branagh delivers his most personal film to date. Sure, it may feel somewhat familiar at times but it has so much heart I was ultimately left quite charmed by it. In addition, being shot in crisp digital black and white (with the odd exception) was stunning, making it not only look beautiful but also stand out to me for being a piece of history I knew very little about.
Need to say there are a few unfortunate problems with Belfast. The score by Van Morrison felt out of place, never truly gelling completely with various sequences, but it’s the light tone that seems to be most out of place within. Granted it’s told from the point of a child but it tells a story in a time Ireland was in desperate need of balance and thus, while the opening works extremely well, it’s never quite replicated throughout.
Nevertheless, it’s crowd pleasing nature will surely be noticed, for better or for worse, this award season. For me, the strong performances from the whole cast, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Caitriona Balfe, Jude Hill and Judi Dench are all terrific, is what made Belfast what it is and while yes, there are problems within, it feels like a nice tribute to home and family that will surely resonate with many worldwide.
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