review by Bobby Blakey
Kenneth Branagh is one of those great actors that has established himself as a great director a hundred times over with films like Hamlet, Thor, and more recently Death on the Nile. His latest film Belfast features a great cast including Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan and rising star Jude Hill. Could this black and white period piece bring something special to the story or will it fail to stand its ground?
Belfast follows a poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood amid the music and social tumult of the late 1960s. Buddy’s family lives in a largely Protestant district with a few Catholic families, but one day his community and everything he thought he understood about life is suddenly turned upside down. Buddy’s family gets caught in the mayhem and must decide to stay or leave the only place they have ever called home. Through it all, his passionate parents and quick-witted grandparents keep the joy alive through music and the magic of movies in this feel-good story that reminds us that no matter how far you go, you never forget where you came from.
There has been a lot of buzz on this one complete with numerous nominations so I was pretty eager to check it out. After diving in I have mixed feelings about it with it hitting all the right notes, but not fully working as well for me as I expected. This isn’t because it’s a bad movie, but more about the context and pacing that makes it a bit of a unique experience in the best way possible, but I just never was able to get fully invested.
The film is beautifully shot in mostly black and white with a genius use of colors from time to time making it visually stunning from beginning to end. It helps
the narrative work for the period nature and the story of Branagh’s own experiences come to life. It’s for sure an interested film and approach to the historical events and life he grew up in, but it is also so slow that I found it hard to get into. I’m not sure what the issue was for me as all the performances were excellent, but for whatever reason I just didn’t connect with it. It is far from a bad movie and in fact I can understand all the love it is getting, but for me it just never captured my full investment.
I can totally see why it is getting so much attention and I applaud Branagh for bringing such a personal story to life in this creative way, but it just isn’t for me. In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including commentary, deleted scenes, and featurettes taking you behind bringing this film to life.
This is a movie that should be seen though, so decide for yourself and check out Belfast available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Home Entertainment.