6.5/10 Already cemented as a Best Picture nominee by critics months before the nominations are even announced, “Belfast” has many redeeming qualities but ends up feeling underwhelming and extremely overhyped. Perhaps the boomer demographic of the Academy is the one championing this film, but for those of us who didn’t live through the late 60s/early 70s, the film leaves much to be desired. As for what worked, the acting was phenomenal. Jude Hill, 11, plays Buddy and he is not only one of the cutest child actors ever but gives a genuinely impressive performance for someone of his young age. Ciarán Hinds as Pop stood out too and everyone gave a great performance but those two deserve a special shout out. The pacing worked well and each character felt like they were given an equal amount of balanced screen time so character development was evenly spread out. Normally films in black and white for no reason whatsoever come off as pretentious (“Roma” comes to mind) but it works here as some color is selectively used in various scenes. Writer/director/no upper lip having Kenneth Branagh is able to capture the feel of the time period and the scenes with the children just being children during dangerous, unpredictable times were the best moments in the film. The recreation of the time period through production design and costume design were well done and the film just feels realistic and authentic. All that being said, the film does fall short in a few areas, making this feel less like a Best Picture nominee and more like your mom or dad’s favorite film of the year. The film has been hailed as a “triumph” and a “tear-jerker” from critics but I never emotionally connected to the story nearly as much as I expected to. I almost never cry in real life but I cry way easier than your average person while watching films so I braced myself to get a lump in my throat by the end of the film. The lump never came, nor did the tears that generally follow it. Despite emotional elements in the film, I didn’t care nearly as much as I should have about what the characters were going through and that was a problem. One example is that a character dies and what should be an emotional moment abruptly cuts to a party/karaoke section that was a celebration. While there is nothing wrong with choosing to be happy and celebrate a life instead of grieving/mourning in a more depressing way, this sharp contrast felt unnatural and there was virtually no time to grieve. Another big problem was the soundtrack. While the songs used were fantastic, the problem was that there were far too many songs shoved into the running time and most of them only played for 30 seconds before ending abruptly. Branagh’s use of music was a big problem that took me out of the film more often than it achieved the mood that the scene was going for. In the end, the film is well made and expertly acted with Hill being the big takeaway but the script never connects emotionally and the use of music was all over the map. While a decent film and far better than a lot of Branagh’s more recent directorial efforts, don’t believe the Best Picture/Oscar hype that you will surely hear going forward.

#BelfastAndTheFurious / #FiftyShadesOfBlack&White / #TheDenchDispatch / #NorthernFireland / #HoldBelfast / #BigTroublesInLittleBelfast

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