Five Reasons You’ll Love It - April 26, 2022

Belfast: Five Reasons You’ll Love It
by James
James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

Belfast: Five Reasons You’ll Love It

As one of the UK’s most well-known living actors – and a knight of the realm, no less – Kenneth Branagh needs little by way of introduction, although despite a range of work that has seen him tackle all manner of projects as both an actor and a director, Branagh is probably still known to most people for one of two things: Shakespeare and Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

More recently, however, Branagh has been in the headlines for other reasons as a result if his latest film, which contains precisely zero Shakespeare or Agatha Christie and focusses instead on his own early upbringing in Belfast amidst the long-running sectarian conflict known as ‘the Troubles’.

In the semi-autobiographical film Belfast, written and directed by Branagh himself, he tells the story of his early years in the Northern Irish city through the eyes of Buddy, a young boy from a Protestant family, and the circumstances which would eventually lead his family to emigrate to England, as Branagh’s own family had done.

The film’s hugely impressive child star Jude Hill, playing Buddy, is supported by a cast that includes Jamie Dornan, Catriona Balfe, Ciarán Hinds and Dame Judi Dench, among others, and the film swept through awards season shortly after its release, winning a BAFTA for Outstanding British Film and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, making Branagh the first and only person to be nominated in seven different categories at the Academy Awards.

Branagh’s award-winning film is available in stores from this week (Monday April 25) and if you’ve yet to catch this stirring drama in cinemas here are five reasons why we think you’ll want to add Belfast to your collection…

 

Jude Hill is a star in the making…

Tackling a lead role as such a young age is a big ask in any kind of film, especially in one with some much emotional heft and grit, but Jude Hill impresses throughout and could prove to be a real find. Not all child actors are fortunate enough to develop a career like, say, Christian Bale, but you can’t help but be reminded of the latter’s performance in Empire of the Sun watching the young Hill at work here. On this evidence, he looks set for big things.

 

It’s about family more than politics or religion…

The sectarian issues driving the conflict are undoubtedly heavy and there have been plenty of films that explore the bitter divide between the catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland, but Branagh’s film tells the story from a more human perspective and seeing the city through Buddy’s eyes allows the film to focus on the human experience of the conflict without weighing too heavily into the ugly politics – a move which makes the story equally absorbing no matter which side of that divide you may be on.

 

The supporting cast are superb…

Not that you’d expect anything other than a great performance from the likes of Judi Dench, but it’s worth saying anyway, with both Jamie Dornan and Catriona Balfe emerging as particular standouts amongst an otherwise excellent cast.

 

You’ll find yourself laughing more than you might think…

Yes, the subject matter was always going to be heavy, but between the main narrative of the film there are enough comedic moments and sharp one-liners to make this an entertaining experience as well as a thought-provoking one.

 

The soundtrack is great too...

Belfast pays tribute to some of its finest musical exports in its soundtrack and the liberal =use of work by the likes of Van Morrison really add to the sense of affectionate nostalgia that permeates the film.


 


Belfast is available in hmv stores now – you can also find it here in our online store.

Belfast
Belfast Kenneth Branagh

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