Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Belfast

 


“Autobiographical” movies of childhoods seen through the eyes of a child are fairly common in film history .I Remember Mama, Kes, Little Women, The Yearling ……The list is a long one and so I was interested just how Kenneth Branagh would share his Protestant childhood in a divided 1969 Belfast.

Like all childhood memories Belfast is an seemingly endless series of vignettes. A scene dominated by a remembered and much loved one liner, or a fleeting memory of childhood humour such as a drunk auntie singing Danny Boy. Cinematic moments such as a much loved trip to the theatre with his granny ( a nicely underplaying Judi Dench) or a hospital trip to see his dying grandfather (a twinkling eyed Ciarán Hinds) have all been added to by the luvvie that is Kenneth Branagh , so the narrative is just a little drawn out and is overly sentimental, a detail you can forgive somewhat as it obviously a story of a boy loved so completely it almost hurt. 

Catriona Balfe ..many of the shots of the film were taken through open windows, an obvious childhood memory 

Jude Hill plays the eight year old Branagh with wide eyed appeal. Jamie Dornan is suitably buff as his heroic father but the main acting honours go to Catriona Balfe as Branagh’s young and long suffering mother who tries to keep the household going throughout everything.

Kenneth Branagh is just a year and a half older than me, so his childhood memories , even though they were experienced during the troubles had a certain resonance with me. 

His relationship with his grandparents, his love of cinema, his sense of feeling loved, his memories of humorous  events could have been directly snipped from my childhood and those parts of the movie I loved.

But for me, the whole thing was a little overly sentimental, and a tad overlong




33 comments:

  1. I want to see this so much having spent time in Belfast and Northern Ireland. History remains as it always does, and in Derry I was told not to mention I was English! I actually sound very American as I've lived here so long! The cast alone is great - and I liked that you gave a heads up to Catriona, a really special actress.
    You write excellent reviews John, thank you.

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  2. I completely want to watch this. The trailers are intriguing.

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    1. It’s worth a watch JM , BUT it’s not my fav movie this year

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  3. I'll probably never get to see this, but Catriona Balfe was wonderful in the first Outlander series. Just found out she is Irish, and used to be a top model :)

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  4. Another great review, John. Even when you review a film I'm not drawn to, you somehow make me curious to see it! xx

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  5. good review, can't wait to see it.

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  6. Oh gawd, save us from critics.

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    1. I’ve always been one so don’t read xx

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    2. Tom's sentiment makes me smile. I generally don't read film reviews till AFTER I have watched something. The main reason is that I don't want my mind warped in advance. So, for instance, as soon as you, John, mentioned (in a previous post) that you don't like Branagh I knew the chips of your next review were bound to be down.

      However, I do, sometimes, read reviews/critiques after I've watched something. Not so much as to find confirmation bias (!) but to ask the question: "What the eff was all that about?" How many times do I find films (or at least the story lines) have considerable merit yet are ripped to bits. Others, being applauded sky high, I find lacking. Maybe I was a salmon in a previous life. Swimming upstream, ignoring all obstacles.

      U

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    3. I think I was open to the movie

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  7. I agree.Too sentimental and a bit drawn out.I think the family left at the right time. Not what I remember.I had to keep reminding myself this was seen through a nine year old's eyes. Enjoyed it though.

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  8. I have read numerous crits of this film John but as usual yours is the most thorough - doesn't sound my sort of film.

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  9. I'm looking forward to seeing this one too. His films always deserve a look!

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  10. Barbara Anne1:27 am

    Hadn't heard of this film and appreciate your review of it along with the pictures. Doesn't sound like my kind of movie either. I'll go sit with Weave!

    Hugs!

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  11. I love, "a boy loved so completely that it almost hurt".

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  12. It looks more like 1949 than 1969.

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    1. The mise en sence was artificial which I think was deliberate

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  13. This has convinced me even more to watch this, I fancied it when I first saw it advertised on tv. You're a good reviewer.

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  14. I enjoyed Belfast think it being filmed in black and white added to the film.The furniture took me back to my childhood.

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  15. Great review. I agreed with every word of it the first time I watched the film. It dragged. Seemed to go nowhere, but was sweet. The second time I watched it, I had a completely different response. I loved it. It no longer dragged because I knew what was coming so instead of anticipating the next scene I sank into the one I was watching and noticed so many rich new details. If even felt economically constructed the second time, and like a piece of exquisite art. Same film. Go figure. I do love Catriona Balfe from Outlander, which is to me what The Walking Dead is to you. But the entire cast of Belfast was pitch perfect on my second viewing. I wonder if you'll have a different experience the second time around too.

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  16. As I said,you have a way with words.Not a fan of Luvvi Ken.I was 70 yesterday.x

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  18. Mean't to say Luvvi.x

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  19. ! spent 2 years in Belfast, Sept. 1970 to Dec. 1972. Worst 2 years of my life!!

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  20. I think I'm going to love this film I often read reviews that aren't written as well as yours, but at the same time I don't let the critics sway me I have one at home and anything he likes I don't !

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