'Belfast' Review: Should You Watch or Not?

Looking for more of the best from 2021? Let's take a closer look at Kenneth Branagh's well-reviewed '60s dramedy in our Noovie "Belfast" review.

Chuck Walton

By Chuck Walton

Belfast Review

© Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

If you're looking for more heralded movies to watch and you've already seen "Sing 2," "Spider-Man: No Way Home," and "The Matrix Resurrections," then we've got a sleeper to recommend. While filmmaker Kenneth Branagh's semi-autobiographical look at growing up in Belfast, Ireland, in the late '60s might not be for all tastes, we're thinking more audiences than not will really appreciate it. Check out our review below for the reasons to watch, or not, in our Noovie "Belfast" review.

Reasons to Watch

© Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

© Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

  • "Belfast" is set during a hard time in Ireland's history, during the late '60s beginnings of the Northern Ireland conflict between Catholics and Protestants. It's seen through the eyes of 9-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), a sub in for the young Branagh, and his exploits in the neighborhood. He's surrounded by a loving mother, grandparents, and a caring dad who's mostly off working for the family in England. It's a highly personal, intimate look at family life, and Branagh's lush black and white cinematography and the warm soundtrack of Van Morrison tunes evokes a time and place with incredible specificity.
  • Besides the incredibly natural Jude Hill, the parents played by Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe, and the grandparents played by Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds, are a true highlight. These are good, decent people trapped in challenging circumstances. What's never in doubt, though, is the real love between them all.
  • The film won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival for a reason. While stories of youth, family and hardship have been seen onscreen thousands of times before, when their spirit is true, they still resonate. By the film's end, the hugely emotional impact is earned.

Or Not

  • "Belfast" is an incredibly warm family film, but as with its lead character, it's more interested in all of the passing life adventures than diving in full bore on the political events of the time. For those looking for a more direct historical representation, this may be lacking for them.
  • The line between honest sentimentality and saccharine is a fine one. We think "Belfast" represents the best of family dramedies. But there will be thosewho think it leans too heavily on its feelings.

Watch or Not?

"Belfast" is one of the best and underrated, overlooked films of the past year. As far as our Noovie "Belfast" review, we highly recommend watching and celebrating it with the ones you love.

Kenneth Branagh and his cast and crew have done a fantastic job of evoking the feelings of youth, and this period in Belfast's history. By the time Jamie Dornan's "Pa" grabs the mic and sings "Everlasting Love" to Caitriona Balfe's "Ma," with Buddy taking it all in, you'll want to jump for joy onto the dance floor, too. It's that kind of special movie experience.

Watch "Belfast" now on VOD

Belfast Poster




November 12, 2021

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Chuck Walton

Chuck is an editor/writer who's worked for NCM, Fandango, Movies.com, MediaTrip, Hollywood.com and Newsweek. His favorite movie is "Jaws." He's definitely a dog guy.

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