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BELFAST (2021) – My rating: 8/10

Belfast is a British coming-of-age comedy-drama written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who has described Belfast as his “most personal film” and focuses on a young boy’s childhood in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the beginning of “The Troubles” in 1969. I watched Belfast because of its Oscar nominations. I thought the movie was well-acted, well-written, and somewhat depressing to see what some people will do to satisfy their strong need for control over people or situations, aka “control freaks”.

Belfast chronicles the life of a working-class Ulster Protestant family from the perspective of their 9-year-old son Buddy (Jude Hill) during “The Troubles” in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Buddy’s father “Pa” (Jamie Dornan) works overseas in England, while the family—“Ma” (Caitríona Balfe), elder brother Will (Lewis McAskie), and paternal grandparents Granny (Judi Dench) and Pop (Ciarán Hinds)—live in Belfast.

During the August 1969 riots, a group of Protestant loyalists attacks the homes and businesses of Catholics on Buddy’s street. The residents of the street set up a barricade to prevent further conflict and Buddy’s father returns home from England to check up on the family’s well-being. The family attends church, where the minister (Turlough Convery) delivers a harsh fork in the road speech; the rhetoric is continually reflected upon by Buddy throughout the film. Buddy develops feelings for a fellow high-achieving Catholic classmate, Catherine (Olive Tennant), and they eventually become friends.

Local criminal and sectarian rabble-rouser Billy Clanton (Colin Morgan) approach “Pa” demanding his involvement in “the cause”; when “Pa” refuses, Billy becomes aggressive and continues to incessantly approach Buddy. Meanwhile, the family struggles to pay off their accumulated debts. “Pa” dreams of emigrating to Sydney or Vancouver, a prospect met with distress from “Ma”. However, she can no longer deny the option of leaving Belfast as the conflict worsens and “Pa” is offered a promotion and housing deal in England from his employers. They attempt to discuss the matter with the boys, but Buddy breaks down at the thought of leaving.

Buddy and local girl Moira (Lara McDonnell) attempt to steal chocolates from a sweet shop, but the plan goes awry. When later questioned by the police, Buddy does not reveal his co-conspirators. Following this, Moira recruits Buddy into her local gang, who participate in looting a supermarket. A reluctant Buddy is coerced into stealing a box of laundry detergent before he returns home and informs “Ma” of his activities. “Ma” berates him and drags both Buddy and Moira back to the ongoing looting in order to return their stolen items. Billy then appears and takes them hostage as leverage for his own escape. “Pa”, Will, and the British Army arrive at the scene to end the riot. This initiates a standoff with Billy who attempts a shootout until “Pa” and Will manage to disarm him. Billy is then promptly arrested and swears retribution.

It is beyond me why people of different faiths, colors, cultures insist on invading each other with their belief systems.  This is one of the problems with marriage.  If you marry with the hopes of changing each other, you shouldn’t be marrying this person.  eventually, one, if not both, will get tired of being under fire for who each of them is.  This applies to all people from all walks of life.  Some of it is downright ridiculous as you can’t change your color or ethnic background no more than more people can change who they’ve become, due to circumstances and upbringing.  Who’s to say who is right and who is wrong — you can only say when two people or circumstances are wrong for you.  The situation in Belfast was for what?  Protestant vs. Catholic, wow!  We all can only change the way we accept one another and leave it at that!  Belfast continues on with the events that caused the family to make a decision on their future.  I found the whole scenario depressing.  Kudos to Branagh for writing and directing this point and time in history in a way that shows us how st%#*d some of us can be. The acting was brilliant as was the storytelling.  Judi Dench who played Buddy’s Grandma looked and revealed a very wise and experienced person of the times.

Belfast tied with The Power of the Dog for a leading seven nominations at the 79th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Drama; the film won a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay.  As of 9 February 2022, Belfast has grossed $7.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $14 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $21.6 million. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 87% based on 280 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “A deeply personal project for writer-director Kenneth Branagh, Belfast transcends its narrative deficits with powerful performances and directorial craft.”  You can currently rent Belfast online via Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, YouTube, Xfinity, Redbox, or Vudu.  It’s worth the watch — Check It Out!

[BELFAST is Oscar-nominated at the 94th Academy Awards for BEST: Picture, Supporting Actor,  Supporting Actress, Director, Original Song, Original Screenplay, and Sound — Totaling 7 Oscar Nominations]