Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Jude Hill, Lewis McAskie, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, and more.
Of the 2021 Oscar Best Picture nominees, “Belfast” is probably the one I knew the least of. “Drive My Car” has been causing enough buzz to get my attention, “Coda” has been sung about since its festival run, but “Belfast” honestly poked its head into theaters and bounced out. Aside from an attractive style to it and some notable names, I approached “Belfast” with limited knowledge.
“A young boy and his working-class Belfast family experience the tumultuous late 1960s.”
“Belfast” crept into my attention for a mere moment then faded away. I knew it hit theaters, but by the time I even thought to try to catch it, it was gone. Fast-forward to Oscar nominations time and here we are with the Best Picture nominated “Belfast.” Artistically, I thought it would look excellent, I figured the performances are probably going to be stellar, and I figured there would be a few sparkling spots within the film. Did I get everything I thought? Nowhere near it.
Artistically, it is exceptional. The use of black and white adds a completely classic vibe to it, and it fits the plot being that it’s set in the 60s. The set pieces are gorgeous and it really recaptured the look of northern Ireland of that time.
The performances are solid. I really enjoyed the younger actors here which came as a shock as typically I would find at least one of a group of child actors to be quite annoying but that was not the case here. Jamie Dornan held down the fort as the head of the household. I have come to like Dornan post “Fifty Shades”. Judy Dench and Ciarán Hinds were a breath of comedic fresh air as well. Despite my praise, no one really put on a show-stealing performance, but everyone was passable.
The story took a biographical style to it and while it had moments of action in the form of the riots and dramatic laced interactions, this was a slow delivery of a story. So much so that I nodded off a couple times. I’m sorry, I’m a tired fella. It just couldn’t keep me locked in.
It is rare for me to enjoy every single Best Picture nominee, but I always come to some form of appreciation for the ones I do not entirely love among the bunch. “Belfast” looks great, there are some great names to it, and it tells a unique story from the perspective of Branagh’s own accounts. Unfortunately it just wasn’t my full cup of tea. Maybe 1/4 of it?
One thing I wanted to add because I thought about it after I formatted the review… I really did love how Branagh kept a mostly positive and happy vibe throughout the film despite the upsetting circumstances surrounding the family. It kind of shows that regardless of the circumstances, his family kept things light and good-spirited.
Edited by Abby McNatt
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