“I felt like I was watching my own story.”
Belfast, the Irish film phenomenon written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, is utterly brilliant. I would suggest it to anyone and everyone, but especially if you are from or have family from Northern Ireland. I, as a northerner, felt like I was watching my own story and my family’s experience of living in Northern Ireland with tensions never ceasing between the two communities. Every story my family told me about their lives growing up in the midst of the Troubles, from the rioting in the supermarkets to tin trashcan tops and the car bombings, was playing out on the silver screen right in front of my eyes.
I’ve heard the stories of a riot breaking out and my grandmother taking her toddler twins and sprinting away for their lives from the danger. My grandmother’s car being bombed and blowing the windows from her house for allowing a Catholic- Protestant marriage to occur in her house. My grandfather warning his sons to never ever get involved with either side of the war. My father, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and even myself once being held at gun point for being a Catholic with a Protestant name. It was like someone had simply written a film about our lives. It was incredible. It is a masterpiece of film showing the everyday experience of the ordinary person living in the Troubles.
I was very happy to see actual Irish actors on screen instead of Americans attempting and failing terribly to capture the Irish accent. However, I wish someone would have told this to Judi Dench, who I feel slipped in and out of her accent like she was going down a waterslide. It was the worst part of the film for me, without a doubt. However, I will say she has mastered the Irish granny’s mannerisms, like slipping money into her grandson’s hand. Jamie Dornan also adorned the screen with his portrayal of a Northern father looking after his family, not a far stretch. And the wonderful Jude Hill who portrayed the 10-year-old protagonist, Buddy. I’m telling you to remember that name, he is the next Robert DeNiro. This film has been nominated for a grand total of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. I, for one, was not surprised in the least. It is truly deserved as it played out the ordinary family life of those living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. This is a film in which no Irish person should skip. These types of films should be viewed to help reduce the tensions that remain in Northern Ireland today.