Keeping up with some of the international content doing the rounds over the globe, and I finished watching the English film Belfast last night. This film had being lying in my watchlist for a very long time now and I finally did get to it. What fascinated me the most about the film was that it was a coming of age story – something that I really adore. Films like Boyhood, Jojo Rabbit or even the recently out The Hand Of God all fall under this category and all of them are gems. There are certain journeys which are personal, yet the more you get to know them, the more you feel that the basic emotions are the same everywhere. The situations may differ but with the emotions being same, the coming of age stories seem relatable and personal. That said, is Belfast worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Set in the 1960s, Belfast is the coming of age story of a young boy in the bylanes of Belfast against the background of unrest. The story is subtle yet so heartwarming and relatable. The film begins with some beautiful colours of the landscapes which soon switches to monochrome. Off late I have been witness to quite a few films which have used monochrome effectively and Belfast is no different. The screenplay here is taut and wastes almost no time in getting to the point. The neighbourhood unrest and the politics surrounding it featuring primarily two groups are all shown through the gaze of the young boy. And this is where the film scores. How often have we seen that films unfolding through the gaze of children are simple – either black or white(just like the monochrome setting). The complexities begin and end with adults and it is children to view the world in utmost simplicity. So what that translates into is that the negative aspects all of a sudden don’t seem to be grey. The sponge like mind of children often soak in everything around them – both right and wrong which was brilliantly shown here.
The love of cinema for the child was quite evident and something which I related to as well. Also sequences featuring his family are so heartwarming that it made me miss my grandpa and grandma all the more. There are several moments which will touch your heart and end up melting it. The concepts of religion and love are also so beautifully addressed here. All of this is packaged into a wonderful screenplay which ends with three lovely lines – For Those Who Stayed, For Those Who Left and For Those Who Were Lost. If these three lines do not tug the strings of your heart, very little things would. A brilliantly penned screenplay here.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues hold a special place in my heart. There are so many lines which will fill yiu up with emotions. When the little kid asked his grandpa(who is on his deathbed), “Where Will I Find You?” To which he replies, “In No Place Where You Won’t Find Me”. It just made me reminesce my life that was, beautiful, simple yet poignant and impactful. The music is brilliant and instantly gives you a whiff of the era that has gone by. The BGM also blends very well with the drama. The cinematography captures some brilliant frames expertly. Director Kenneth Branagh has done a brilliant job. It seems the film is straight out of an episode from his life. And he packs in so many emotions here, making you smile and maybe shed a tear and delivering a piece of art which stays with you after it has ended.
The performances are top notch here. Ciaran Hinds aa Pop and Judi Dench as Granny both deliver such a heartfelt performance that it made me recall my time with my grandparents(who aren’t around now). Lara Mcdonnell as Moira has her moments to shine. Caitriona Balfe as Ma and Jamie Dornan as Pa are both excellent as the parents who are somehow trying to salvage the situation at hand. Lewis McAskie as Will is quite good. But the performance of the film comes from the little boy Jude Hill. As Buddy, he delivers a towering performance. His innocence is evident in almost every frame and his performance touches you like no other.
Belfast turns out to be one of my favourite coming of age films that did make me smile and also shed a tear. The story seemed so personal to me that I could draw parallels in some parts. This one comes with my highest recommendation!