A tumultuous period in Irish history is seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy in Kenneth Branagh’s bittersweet chronicle of a close-knit family in 1960s Belfast.
With BELFAST, Oscar-nominated actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh has crafted his most personal work yet, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story set in Branagh’s birthplace. In 1969, nine-year-old Buddy (talented newcomer Jude Hill) leads a happy childhood, blissfully content in his working-class North Belfast neighborhood where folks don’t have much but are united by a shared sense of community. Buddy is supported by a loving, tight-knit family, including spirited, glamorous Ma (Caitríona Balfe), devoted, hard-working Pa (Jamie Dornan) and his vivacious, advice-dispensing grandparents (Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench). In this net of security, Buddy’s dreams are able to flourish, inspired by the American movies and television shows he eagerly devours. But this youthful idyll comes crashing to a halt when civil discontent and violence engulf the city, turning neighbor against neighbor and bringing fear and sorrow to Buddy’s doorstep. With Pa in England working to support the family, Ma struggling to hold things together at home, and violence threatening to tear his community apart, Buddy must reconcile the clear-cut heroes and villains of his beloved Westerns with the complicated, imperfect people and confusing reality all around him. Filled with music, joy, and the glow of familial love even at its darkest moments, the film is a tender ode to the sights and sounds of Branagh’s childhood, vividly bringing 1960s Belfast to life through meticulous production and costume design, captured in gorgeous black-and-white images by cinematographer Harris Zambarloukos. Brought to life by a sterling cast delivering effortlessly lived-in performances, Branagh’s poignant masterpiece is an intensely personal yet universal evocation of childhood.
CAST: Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds
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