Run time: 98 mins
With touches of The 400 Blows and Cinema Paradiso, Kenneth Branagh portrays the rising tensions of The Troubles in 1960’s Belfast.
Growing up in a terraced house in a working-class neighbourhood of Belfast, nine-year-old Protestant Buddy (Jude Hill) has enjoyed a happy childhood in a tight-knit community of both Protestants and Catholics. As the tensions of The Troubles develop into an increase of violent attacks against Catholic houses by Protestant groups, the protective and peaceful bubble of the street is popped. Buddy becomes increasingly aware of the adult political world that tells him that his infatuation for his Catholic classmate, Catherine, is wrong and seeks support from his grandparents (the endlessly charming Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench) and mother (Catriona Balfe). Behind the scenes, Buddy’s father (Jamie Dornan), who works abroad in England, seeks to relocate the family to safety but struggles with his own personal conflicts.
Belfast is as much a masterful confrontation of the wide-ranging impact of The Troubles on everyday people as it is a delicate consideration of a single child’s perspective on growing up. With an evocative saxophone-based score from Van Morrison, and aesthetically assertive cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos, it’s a must watch.