“A young boy and his working class family experience the tumultuous late 1960s.” -IMDB
Belfast is loosely based on director Kenneth Branagh’s (aka Professor Lockhart 😉) upbringing in Belfast during the Northern Ireland troubles. And as with one of my other favorite movies, JoJo Rabbit (oops kind of gave away the jist of this review, huh?), Belfast focuses on war and conflict through the eyes of a child. And, as with JoJo Rabbit, it does so with humor, grace, realism, and tenderness. Let me clarify…
We follow Buddy, a nine year old Protestant, as he and his family become embroiled in the escalating violence of the era. As much as the family would like to live in harmony with their Protestant and Catholic neighbors, violent vigilantes pressure the family to support the rebel Protestants. We see Buddy struggle with the everyday turmoils of a nine year old, struggling to do well with math in order to earn a seat by his crush, while also facing the aging of his grandparents, and tension between his parents. However, he also must learn lessons about a centuries old struggle and he must grapple with his parents to decision to leave or to stay in Belfast.
This film has incredibly beautiful artistic elements, including a mix of color and black and white, but never feels pretentious. The humor shown by the family during such a trying time makes them feel like they could a family you know, even your own. And it deals with a heavy subject without ever making you feel overwhelmed, in fact I left the theater with a mix of tears and a smile on my face, feeling wiser having watched it.
Honestly, if I were just writing this review for me (lol, I absolutely am), then I would give this film 10 out of 10 Claire Bears. And I’m crossing my fingers that is nominated and wins a number of awards this season. However, I understand that it may be a topic that is hard for people to dive into. I think anyone would love this film upon watching it, but I was nervous going in that it would be too devastating. I can assure you it is not and that it is well worth the watch! Now go support Professor Lockhart!
Rating: 9 out 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also watch: JoJo Rabbit, Roma
Streaming: Available in Theaters
With: Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie, Jamie Dornan, Catriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh