When I first caught a glimpse of the trailer for this new Belfast movie I was instantly intrigued. Starring Jamie Dornan and Judi Dench, this mainly black and white film is an homage to the city in which Kenneth Branagh grew up. Set in the tragic time of 1969, when hostilities in Northern Ireland were heightened, the movie examined a period of tension, tight families and endurance.
The first person who struck me in this was the mother of the family, played by Caitriona Balfe (an actress who was new to me). She was excellent in a role where she had to hold a family together while her husband was regularly away in England working as a joiner. Her moments of argument and sweet scenes with Jamie were contrasting and skilfully acted. Jamie was brilliant as the father who needed to earn for his household but also ensure they were safe in a neighbourhood rocked by the violent Belfast riots. The two of them were full rounded characters.
Although I expected this film to be very serious and upsetting it was also very heart-warming. Judi Dench had some very funny lines that reminded me of my own nan. Watching her grandson worry about impressing a girl in his class was amusing. In those days, a child would do a maths test and the top scorer would sit closest to the teacher in seat one. The lowest scorer would be at the back. The girl he admired was in seat two and he longed to be next to her.
The director -Kenneth Branagh- moved to England from Belfast as a boy and so there was some reflection on his own youth in this fascinating picture. The soundtrack was filled with nostalgia and I could not stop thinking about the TV test card used. When I was young, TV stations closed down at night and that particular test card would be shown for hours on end. Some of the phrases used also brought back memories, such as the term ‘scotch mist.’ My mum used to always say that when talking about something expensive. ‘What do you think I’m going to pay with, scotch mist?’ was coined a lot.
I totally recommend going to the cinema to see ‘Belfast Movie’ and taking in the drama. Set in a difficult situation, after riots had seen communities putting up barricades, this beautiful movie is intelligent, educational and sweet. I laughed lots and cried at the end. Be prepared for a whirlwind of emotions. If you would prefer a scarier movie, check out my Scream review.
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