Oscar-nominated Belfast is exceptional – movie review

By Alexandra Heilbron on March 1, 2022 | 4 Comments


Belfast on Blu-rayBelfast is a semi-autobiographical look at a little boy growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh and based on his early years, the story is shown mostly from the viewpoint of nine-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), whose family has lived in Belfast for generations.

His mother (Caitríona Balfe) grew up there, as did his father (Jamie Dornan), his grandfather “Pop” (Ciarán Hinds) and his granny (Judi Dench). However, when an angry mob suddenly comes marching through their neighborhood as children are playing in the streets, their lives suddenly change. In a chilling moment, Buddy is frozen with terror in the middle of the street, unable to comprehend what’s going on.

After he learns from his parents that the mob was looking to drive Catholics out, Buddy and his family, who are Protestant, still don’t feel safe. The gang leader wants Buddy’s older brother to join them, and despite their father’s warnings, it becomes difficult to survive in that atmosphere without giving in to their demands.

As the violence worsens, their family is further threatened because Buddy’s father (referred to as “Pa” through the movie) won’t join the mob. Pa works outside of Belfast and is only home occasionally — not an ideal situation as he has to leave his wife to take care of things while he’s away. He talks about moving the family out of Belfast, but is met with resistance from Ma and especially Buddy, who doesn’t want to leave his Pop and Granny.

The movie is mostly shot in black and white, to immerse the audience into the time period. When there are bursts of color, such as when the family goes to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the local cinema, the color that floods down on them allows us to share the feeling of wonder that Buddy experiences as he gazes up at the big screen.

Kenneth Branagh has done an exceptional job of drawing the audience into the world he experienced as a child. We feel the innocence of the children in juxtaposition to the violence and evil that’s infiltrating their lives. The cinematography is phenomenal, as is the set design — creating a film experience that’s satisfying in every way.

Making his film debut as Buddy is Jude Hill — and he’s a delight to watch. He portrays joy and sorrow equally well and seems to be living his experience rather than acting. Caitríona Balfe as Ma is also exceptional in her role, allowing us to share her despair, anger and frustration at the situation. In fact, the entire cast is incredible — they have received numerous nominations and awards for their work. Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench, in the roles of the lovable grandparents, both received Academy Award nominations. Caitriona and Jamie Dornan were nominated for Golden Globe Awards and are up for Critics Choice Awards, as is Jude Hill. In total, the film received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Branagh.

The Blu-ray, DVD and Digital release comes with a number of bonus features for viewers to enjoy, including an alternate ending. See the full list below as well as the technical information:

*Alternate Ending featuring Kenneth Branagh – Commentary with Writer/Director Kenneth Branagh
*Deleted Scenes – Commentary with Writer/Director Kenneth Branagh
*A City of Stories: The Making of BELFAST – Go behind the scenes of with cast and crew to learn more about the characters, filming location and Kenneth’s childhood in Ireland.
*Everyone’s Inner Child – Kenneth Branagh, Jamie Dornan, Caitríona Balfe, Ciarán Hinds, and Judi Dench reminisce about their childhoods.
*Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Kenneth Branagh

Belfast releases March 1, 2022 on Blu-ray and DVD. ~Alexandra Heilbron

Technical Information Blu-ray:

Aspect Ratio: 16:9, 1.85:1 Widescreen
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French and Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1 (Feature), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Bonus)

Technical Information DVD:

Aspect Ratio: 16:9, 1.85:1 Widescreen
Languages/Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles
Sound: English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (Feature), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Bonus)

If you’ve seen Belfast yourself and would like to rate/review it, click here.

Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Jude Hill and Judi Dench in Belfast



Comments & Discussion

  1. dennis egan • March 1, 2022 @ 6:28 PM

    No mention of the great soundtrack mostly by Van Morrisson.

  2. Sharon • March 6, 2022 @ 1:19 PM

    Where is Belfast playing? Cant find out

  3. Heather Welch Pollard • March 6, 2022 @ 6:55 PM

    When will Belfast open?

  4. Alexandra • March 7, 2022 @ 9:20 AM

    Belfast opened in theaters last November and is still playing in select cities. Click the photo of the DVD or the title Belfast in the first sentence to get to the movie page, then click Find Showtimes.


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