BELFAST: 2021 (Seen in a movie theatre) This is a love poem to the city of Kenneth Branagh’s birth. When he was nine, his family escaped "The Troubles" by moving to Reading, Berkshire, but on his identity today he has said, "I feel Irish. I don't think you can take Belfast out of the boy.” Branagh said on the Stephen Colbert show that the movie is about something that happened when he was nine. He went on to say, “We lived on one street where my family had many siblings and I had many cousins.” The movie is the story of that one street and the people on it, mostly Protestant with a few Catholics sprinkled in. The summer of 1969 brought violence to the street. Rioters were smashing the windows of the Catholic houses. Forced to take sides, Branagh’s father and mother decided to move away from everything they had known and loved. The director assembled a terrific cast and introduced Jude Hill, who was wonderful as Buddy, the young Branagh. In addition, his mother was played by Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) and his father by Jamie Dornan (the Fifty Shades trilogy). Both are Irish actors. Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds played Buddy’s grandmother and grandfather, and they were perfection. It was a momentous time in young Branagh’s life and interesting to see “The Troubles” through the eyes of a nine-year-old. The film is shot in black and white, which seemed appropriate. Our local reviewer gave the movie 4½ stars (out of 5). Here is his closing paragraph: “But things change, and children grow up. Belfast catches Buddy at that magical time right before it happens. It’s a heartfelt salute from Branagh to his hometown, and what he loved there.” GRADE B+
Kenneth Branagh appeared on the Stephen Colbert show and talked about Belfast.
(Click on his picture to get the interview.)