By Nick Delvescovo
“Belfast,” released on Nov. 12, is a film by Kenneth Branagh. “Belfast” takes the viewers to 1960s Ireland during the Troubles, a political and religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants. It stars Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and introduces Jude Hill as Buddy. I had no real expectations for this film. I wasn’t well versed in the history of the 1960s, and I tried not to look at what people were saying about it. I was very pleasantly surprised with how pleasing “Belfast” was.
To start out, Jude Hill, who plays the main character, was so good. For being his first movie ever, he stole the show. He is able to capture the childlike wonder and innocence of being a young kid in a time of uncertainty. The character makes decisions that a kid would make, like stealing a candy bar because his friend told him so, and Hill does such a great job at making you feel for him. He is a kid that questions everything, loves his family and has a critical and interesting perspective on the world around him. Child actors like Jude Hill are hard to come by, and considering that it is his first role other than a small short film makes his performance that more impressive.
Like I said earlier, “Belfast” is a movie about a historical event. I went into the film fully expecting a historical piece that only presented the viewer with the history. “Belfast” was not that. It did such an amazing job at combining real history with the story of a young boy trying to figure out life and questioning the world around him. That being said, we still get a look into the troubles in Ireland at the time. One of the things that worried me before going into this film was that I didn’t know the historical background of what was taking place. Thankfully, “Belfast” is able to stand on its own and by the end of the film I was able to have a full grasp of what occurred at the time. It is difficult for a film to be very historical and at the same time present the audience with a fresh and enjoyable story, and “Belfast” captured that essence perfectly.
Kenneth Branagh’s direction along with cinematography from Haris Zambarloukos resulted in a visually stunning film. Even though the entire movie is essentially in black and white, the film looks stunning. Sometimes using black and white may seem a bit pretentious, but they utilize the lack of color in such a way that it seems necessary. The lighting, camera position and the positioning of actors in scenes are all enhanced by the lack of color. I feel like in a way the black and white forces you to look at some of the finer details in composition, and there was never a point where I felt like color was necessary. There were also a few scenes that introduced color — such as when the family took their son to see a movie. The only thing in the scene that was in color was the film they were watching, which I felt added to the wonder and amazement of seeing a movie at the theater as a kid.
Ultimately, “Belfast” is a very intimate film that gives the viewer a perspective of the political and religious conflict in Ireland at the time. It is an endearing story that took me back to being a kid, even though the movie was set in the 1960s.
Score: 4/5 Stars