Review Round Up: Belfast

We round up the reviews for Kenneth Branagh’s latest film out now in cinemas…

The Guardian: ***** “There is a terrific warmth and tenderness to Kenneth Branagh’s elegiac, autobiographical movie about the Belfast of his childhood: spryly written, beautifully acted and shot in a lustrous monochrome, with set pieces, madeleines and epiphanies that feel like a more emollient version of Terence Davies.”

The Observer: ** “Kenneth Branagh’s unabashedly feelgood memoir of growing up in Belfast as the Troubles erupted in the late 1960s suffers from a problem of perspective. Canted camera angles are rendered in flat, too-clean black and white; the film leans hard into its deliberately skewed child’s point of view.”

Evening Standard: ***** “Branagh, of course, has chosen to disobey that command. He’s a highly esteemed director but for me, this is the first project he’s made that doesn’t labour to impress. Belfast casually acknowledges the nastiness of existence. Here’s to a playful take on nostalgia, that somehow warms your heart, even as it makes your blood run cold.”

The Irish Times: **** “A gorgeous, proudly unreliable glance over the shoulder. A tribute to an often maligned city. No doubt a source of incoming controversy. What else would you expect from a film called Belfast?”

The Daily Mail: ***** “The result is a bewitchingly intimate, warm-hearted, wholly captivating film, firmly rooted in a particular time and place yet in a way telling a generic tale, that of refugees through the ages.”

Empire: **** “Belfast is exactly the kind of film that wins an audience award at a festival — highly entertaining and beautifully done without ever being innovative or challenging, finding the universal in the specific, the upbeat in dire circumstances. Slight but winning.”

The Independent: *** “The real talk – violence, religion, identity, politics – appears only in short, sharp bursts. And true hatred is far too conveniently condensed into a single, straightforwardly villainous figure (Colin Morgan). There’s an artificial neatness to Buddy’s world: ground that seems like it’s never been walked on before; gates that have been barely touched by passing hands. That’s easily explained by the fact that, because of the pandemic, Branagh elected to shoot on a studio backlot instead of a real street. But it might better serve his vision of Belfast – one that’s not so much about the lives we lead, but the ones the silver screen allows us to dream of.”

The Times: ***** “It’s a movie of formal beauty, precise performances, complex and textured writing (also from Branagh) and enough comic one-liners and classic Van Morrison tracks to make you forget that you’re watching a drama about seething sectarian hatreds. It picked up seven Golden Globe nominations, the most alongside The Power of the Dog, and is an obvious front runner for the Baftas and the Oscars.”

Belfast is out in cinemas now.

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