Shot in pristine black and white, framed with a crisp formalism that presents compositions of neighbourhood banality like autobiographical postcards that, at times, recall the look of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (2018).
Belfast in 1969, the August Riots spark the beginning of the violent Troubles and yet, despite being set during this turbulence, politics and socio-historical context are both lightly stepped over in Branagh’s vision, favouring a knowingly rose-tinted exploration of idealised recollection.
Amid the violence day-to-day life continues and we’re introduced to the glow and heart of family and community: beautiful parents, warmly portrayed by Catriona Balfe (Super 8, Ford v Ferrari) Jamie Dornan (The Fall, Marie Antoinette, Fifty Shades of Grey); irrepressibly endearing grandparents, played with natural charm, by Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds; and the two young boys, Will (Lewis McAskie) and Buddy (an impressive performance by young newcomer, Jude Hill).
Branagh’s Belfast is shot and scripted with wit, charm and deep affection. Young romance, dancing in the streets, violence in the streets, the struggle of a family in the turbulence of change and Van Morrison generously scattered over the montage of a life looked back on.