(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

BELFAST: BELFAST is Kenneth Branagh's reminiscence of growing up in Belfast during the Troubles. It is therefore not as light-hearted as many childhood reminiscences are. In fact, in the first scene we see Buddy playing with a toy sword and a shield consisting of a garbage can lid; then violence erupts and Buddy's mother is forced to use the shield for real to protect them from bricks being thrown around. Religion too is both humorous and not-so-humorous. Buddy and his sister (Protestants) discuss what names are Catholic and what are Protestant (Liam is Catholic, William is Protestant), and how confession works. But the violence between (some) Catholics and (some) Protestants is very real. Buddy's family likes familiar movies and television programs from the United States, such as HIGH NOON and STAR TREK. In fact, after a brief aerial shot of Belfast in color, the film reverts to black and white except for the movies and television shows, which are in super-saturated color. Jude Hill is excellent as Buddy, and the production design is stunning.

Released theatrically 11/12/21; available on various streaming services. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4), or 7/10.

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					Mark R. Leeper
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