Saturday, June 11, 2022

[Blu-ray Review]—Belfast (2021)

Sometime this year, the critically appraised coming-age film Belfast came out on Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and somewhere along the line, I received a copy for review purposes. I recall watching it immediately but never wrote down my thoughts on it until now. And yes, I did rewatch the movie before writing this post.

Belfast is written and directed by Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh and stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, and Jude Hill. The film received seven nominations at the 94th Academy Awards and won Best Screenplay. It's won a slew of other awards from film festivals and award associations.

Shot in black & white (minus a few short scenes), the film is set during the 1969 "The Troubles" riots in Belfast, Ireland, and centers on an Ulster Protestant family, seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill). Buddy's father, Pa (Jamie Dornan), works overseas in England, and his mother, Ma (Caitríona Mary Balfe), is a housewife. Ma looks after Buddy, his older brother, Will (Lewis McAskie), and their paternal grandparents, Granny and Pop (Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench).  

Buddy's home life is turned upside down when the Protestant/Catholic riots attack the neighborhood. His parents have to make a difficult decision to leave their community and move to a safer location.  

Bonus Features include:
  • Deleted Scenes
  • A City of Stories: The Making of Belfast
  • Everyone's Inner Child
  • Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Kenneth Branagh

Final Thoughts

For some reason, what I consider to be outstanding movies are always ignored by Oscar voters, and the films they nominate are "meh" at best. Belfast is one of the rare "Best Picture" contenders I've watched in recent memory that I didn't dislike. Is it overrated? Yes. The mainstream critics over-hyped the film as something more than what it is. From the advertisements and reviews, I thought Belfast was an epic period piece, but it's a family drama seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy. It's nothing more than a heartfelt coming-to-age story. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.  

Overall, Belfast is a cute film with a thin plot held together by Branagh's directing talents and outstanding performances from the entire cast. 

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