‘Belfast’ Telluride Film Festival Review: Kenneth Branagh’s Memorable Story Growing Up In A Volatile Northern Ireland Circa 1969

I have a feeling this movie will get a lot of awards. And, I am sure my emotions will be all over the place! ~ V


Coming on the heels of the Venice debut this week of Paolo Sorrentino’s memories of Growing up in 1980’s Naples is a trip back in time for yet another celebrated director, and of course actor, Kenneth Branagh who revisits the memories of being  nine years old and growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland right in the middle of troubles breaking out between the Protestants and the Catholics that so ravaged the country.

Like Sorrentino, Branagh says it has taken a long time, 50 years to be exact, to sort out those memories and try to put them into some (fictionalized) context that has universal meaning all these years later.

For the director who was born in Belfast at the end of 1960, he has struck a tone of joyful family life mixed with the terrifying breakout of hostilities between the two factions that changed things forever in his neighborhood and the country, all told through the eyes of Buddy who we can take as a stand in for Branagh himself, a colorful young kid who particularly loves American westerns like High Noon and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance on TV, is a fan of football and toy cars, and going to the local movie house to see films like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with his family.

He also is working up the courage to talk to a favored girl as his life on one particular street in Belfast seems idyllic until, virtually overnight, crowds descend on the neighborhood as the troubles begin, and the families who live there must find a way to continue a semblance of their normal lives while essentially being locked down. It has unexpected resonance for right now too.

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BELFAST – Official Trailer – Video via Focus Features

Only In Theaters November 12.

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