“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.
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