Belfast is a semi-autobiographical film that chronicles the life of a working-class family and their young son's childhood during the troubled times of the late 1960s in the Northern Ireland capital. It is unquestionably Kenneth Branagh's most personal film to date. Jude Hill is Branagh's younger stand-in, Buddy, who's playing outside when fighting breaks out in the street and Molotov cocktails start flying. This scene sets the tone for the film, using young Buddy's eyes as the innocence Branagh left behind all those years ago. Religious, political violence looms in the film's background and at times rears its ugly head.
The film reminds me of "Ivan's Childhood" with warlike uncertainty and bleak images. There are static shots of family life at other times, as in "Roma." But it's when Branagh uses his own style is when the film shines. Unfourtantly, he doesn't use this style for long. Instead, he jumps back and forth from stark images, slow-motion shots, handheld shots, and then uses color at times, which do not work as well as in "Wizard of Oz" or "Schindler's List." It takes me out of the film, a place that I quite enjoy at times.
The music tends to be like the cinematography, all over the place, sometimes genius and at others jarring.
Belfast is definitely a film to discover on your own. It wears its heart on its sleeve. At only a little under an hour and a half, maybe a film I need to rediscover soon as well and put my heart on my sleeve and give it another go.