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Belfast review

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PG-13.      128 min



 I want to begin by saying that Kenneth Branagh is probably one of the 10 best actors living today. Adept with roles from traditional Shakespeare London to New York City Brooklynese and with the directorial chops to cover all the styles in between.   For many months pundits around the Academy are predicting a best picture nomination quite probably the gold  For his latest film, a semi autobiographical tale of Northern Ireland in the 1960s called BELFAST.  I was intrigued not only because of my respect for Branagh but because many of my ancestors came from Ireland Scotland and England. The sixties were a time of turmoil for many regions of the world and especially so in Northern Ireland.  A film like this could have taken various paths but instead of a violent story of revolution Branagh  has created a bitter sweet tale seen through the eyes of a child.  While grown ups can embellish  stories of their childhood I think that kids just see things for what they are they are.  I have heard that only rats and human beings will fight with each other for no reason and that's probably the way of the world.  Buddy (Jude Hill) doesn't know exactly why people seem to hate each other or why Pa has to go away to find work in London and why there’s so much noise and fighting in the street. Of the many things that puzzle the little fellow is why people would tell him not to be friends with a girl because she's Catholic or Protestant, because to him that doesn't make sense, and when you think about it, shouldn’t to anyone.  There is a line in Simon and Garfunkel’s version of Scarborough Faire that goes “and fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten.”  Fortunately for Buddy his Ma Pa and grandparents are normal people in an abnormal time and they set him straight.  In one scene, he gets caught up in a flash mob that’s looting the local shop and he grabs a box of cereal. Ma drags him back to the shop and makes him give it back,  It's a valuable lesson that right and wrong doesn't rely on politics. One of the reasons I enjoyed this film is that Brianna is just about 10 youngers than I am and I vaguely  remember the politics when I was that age.   It was 1960 and someone told me I shouldn't like Jack Kennedy because he was Catholic. I asked my dad, who in turn asked me if I didn't like my teachers in kindergarten and 1st grade at Saint John's?  Of course I did and that’s all the explanation that was necessary.  Its too bad life doesn't stay that simple forever.

 So I guess that's why I really like Belfast; yeah if you're looking for action, dramatic ideology  or a political passion play you're looking in the wrong place. It's a nostalgic view through the eyes of a child into a world most of us aren't all that familiar with.



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