Kenneth Branagh’s Latest Oscar-Nominated film is a Bel-fastidious Love Letter to Hometown where he Developed Love for Cinema Paradiso that Deserves to be Seen in Theaters for Celebration of Cinema

by Hassan Ilahi

Conquering Boyhood trauma influencing Cinema passions has always necessitated Willy-Wonka filmmakers Rocky stamina. If Balboa-stful boxing champions delivering enemies Apollo-gies demonstrated Kenneth Branagh’s success stories, they would attribute filmmaker’s Rocky stardom journey childhood Creed. Although Brat-Pack filmmakers possess nostalgic recollection Bender-ing rules when coast Claire, Branagh’s deviated apart from Breakfast Club generation. As unlucky as Charlie Bucket, Branagh scarcely met Bucket list participating Golden-Tickets competitions. Before Aviator-ing fames, Branagh faced Mean-Streets polluted with The-Departed Goodfellas mafias. Unlike Spielberg directors, Branagh seldom avoided Schindler’s-List tragedies. Branagh couldn’t escape Jamal-packed poverty by cheating laundering Slumdog-Millionaire winnings. Following momma’s philosophy: “Life’s-like-box-of-chocolates-and-you-scarcely-know-what-you’re-gonna-get”, Branagh endeavored “Run-Forrest-Run!” trauma. Amidst war era, Branagh sought Salvatore-ating Cinema-Paradiso power. Like Harry-Potter’s scars, past’s Voldemort curse and Sirius blessings. Despite filmmaking Linklater-ed youth, filming Boyhoods Mason-ive. Given odds against favor, how’d director overcome Hunger-Games labor?

E.T. galaxies biographies accomplish when filmmakers endure The Troubles revisiting Boyhood memories in Bloody-Sunday countries before Almost-Famous prosperity are captured in Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-nominated Belfast. Old-fashioned, nostalgic and sprawling, it demonstrates artists deserve fighting chances entering boxing rings conquering Rocky upbringings. With autobiography, Branagh travels memory Penny Lane penning Stillwater pain making Almost-Famous name. Boasting exquisite production-design, engrossing storytelling and phenomenal performances, it’s extraordinary biography. Although Belfast’s unforgettable, it isn’t flawless. It’s rushed, builing sentimental conclusions. Nonetheless, it offers heartwarming coming-of-age entertainment.

Amidst 1960’s Belfast, Belfast follows care-Charless child’s journey escaping David Copperfield poverty following Great Expectations tragedies. Jude Hill personifies Buddy, precocious adolescent strongly attached towards hometown Belfast. Buddy appears possessing strong reason occupying Belfast: loving family, extraordinary educations and compassionate neighbors. However, Buddy’s dreams crumble when The Troubles cause nationwide evacuations. As Buddy’s homesick, he questions belonging.

Kenneth Branagh’s commonly gravitated invisible-daggers Shakespearean stanzas rather than homecountry A-Romas in autobiography genres. Following acknowledgements with 1989’s Henry V, Branagh’s become magnificent Shakespeare filmmaker. His directorial debut Henry V demonstrated expertises modernizing Shakespeare’s age-old Macbeth-nificent tragedies. With Belfast, however, Branagh authors autobiography. It’s Branagh’s first endeavor deriving inspiration from childhood recollections showcasing perils enduring children in segregation countries, but he achieves seamlessly. Using spellbinding cinematography, Branagh immerses viewers into precocious teenager’s journeys confronting wars realities. Evoking Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, Branagh deftly utilizes black-and-white visuals mixed with color signal de-Amon-ic horror enduring families experiencing genocides. Like girl-in-rose-red-coats representing glimmers hope Oskar Schindler against genocides, Cinema signals Buddy’s escape from war-era. If Alfonso Cauron’s Roma used black-and-white merely gimmick portraying Mexican housemaids’ hopeless lives, Branagh exhibits child innocence in war-torn era. Alongside DP Haris Zambarlokous, Branagh conveys wartime horrors. Branagh eulogizes memories, creating theatrical viewing.


If backstories behind filmmakers’ beginnings don’t attract attentions, however, there’s several reasons viewing Belfast. Branagh succeeds recreating hometown neighborhood through real-life locations. If Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous turned director into center-of-attention without honoring hometown’s Almost-Famous contributions, Branagh scouts real-life setting. Accompanied production-designer Jim Clay, Branagh commendably employs landmark Belfast associations showcasing Cinema passions. For instance, real-life locale are used effectively in theater sequence. During memorable sequence, Buddy’s family visits Cinema for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang screenings. One acknowledges real-life locations showcasing Branagh’s Cinema obsessions in WiseGuy styles evoking Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Recalling Martin Scorsese’s dependence real-life Italian neighborhoods exhibiting Henry Hill climbing up-Hill Goodfellas mobsters battle, Branagh employs real-life location celebrating heritages. Branagh honors hometown where transformed “somebody-in-neighborhoods-full-of-nobodies”. Furthermore, Van Morrison’s score’s commendable. Memorializing John G. Avildsen’s Rocky, rock music cheers-on underdogs escaping Rocky impoverishment. Through set-design, Branagh rediscovers roots.

Another extraordinary Belfast aspect’s script. Branagh’s greatest screenwriting strength’s creating compassionate war-divided countries portrayals through children’s point-of-views. In Hollywood, wartime blockbusters highlighting children’s perspective often sugarcoat frightening genocide realities. This cultivates minimal emotional investment and contributes historical catastrophe misunderstanding. Case-in-point, Mark Herman’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas exploited dire genocide for child melodrama victimizing boy-in-striped-pajamas-attires across barbed wires. Fortunately, however, that definitely isn’t Belfast’s complications. Branagh sensibly avoids sugarcoating wars fairytale fantasies through childrens eyes. Imitating Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump, Branagh effectively employs innocent child’s perspective showcasing how war’s “like-a-box-of-chocolates-and-you-scarcely-know-what-you’re-gonna-get”. Recalling Forrest-Gump’s childlike world-views not understanding Vietnam War’s severities, Buddy expresses confusions following The Troubles instigate hometown evacuations. Through childlike point-of-views, Branagh judiciously avoids political ideologies making movies regarding war-divided countries. Whereas children exploitations volunteering life-or-death tributes amid Hunger-Games competitions elevates blockbusters amid imaginary futures (ex. Gary Ross’ Hunger Games), real-life historical events are different ballgame seldom making fairytale. However, it elevate Belfast. Using stellar screenplay, Branagh honors childhood.

One recognizes astonishing performances. Branagh’s decision casting Irish actors works tremendously.

Jude Hill delivers star-making performance as Buddy. In debut breakthrough roles, Hill emerges born-to-be-star expertly embodying aging children coming-of-age journeys immigrating home countries. It’s intimidating playing children seeking autonomy war-torn countries. However, Hill accomplishes expertly. Emulating Salvatore Cascio in Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso, Hill creates compelling teenager turning toward Cinema’s Salvator-ating powers escaping childhood trauma amidst war-torn eras. With mesmerizing expressions, he conveys childlike wonders, desperation and regrets of adolescent whose only diversion from war’s realities Cinema. It’s Oscar-worthy performance suggesting Hill’s destined success.

Supporting cast’s stellar, crafting bond. Jamie Dornan’s dazzling, earning empathy as strong-Will-ed father faced workload pressures without roof-over-head placing children’s Pursuit-of-Happyness above all else. Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench are Wonka-derous as couple for whom Golden-Ticket to joyfulness is family over chocolate candies. And, Caitriona Balfe’s brilliant. As matriarch, she’s affectionate.

Conclusively, everyone’ll identify Belfast’s Hogwarts journey regardless whether possessing Sirius forehead scars in Severus countries. Evoking J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise, movie’s coming-of-age message conjure magical spell on Muggles from wide-ranging ethnicities. Branagh discusses universal theme including family, immigration and poverty. As immigrant evacuating hometowns after bomb-blasts, Buddy’s struggles hit close home. Hence, “Belfast’s” universal.

Despite all-encompassing appeal, however, Belfast travels well-trodden Boyhood journeys not glimmering as brightly as Slumdog-Millionaire lotteries earned Boys-in-Striped-Pajamas traveling Willy-Wonka-and-the-Chocolate-Factory inspiring Breakfast-Club societies. Branagh’s choice condensing childhood 90 minutes is innovative and cost-effective, but doesn’t work. Owing misjudged technique, Buddy’s goody-two-shoes school sequences aren’t as entertaining as family conflicts. These sequences seem appropriate towards 1980’s high-school movies involving adolescents Bender-ing rules (ex. John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club) over wars. As Richard Linklater’s Boyhood claimed, Boyhood expeditions are only worth destinations when children have ample hours aging in-front-of-cameras maturations. Moreover, movie suffers sentimental endings. It’s poverty-overcomes-adversity finale minimizing poverty. Whereas ending enhanced Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, it clashes movie’s realism. Worst, it claims poverty’s avoidable through winning lotteries. Thus, Belfast falters.

Nevertheless, fans of coming-of-age drama will definitely enjoy Belfast as will moviegoers seeking heartfelt entertainment. Astonishing autobiographical achievement, it suggests Balboa-stful filmmakers deserve conquering Rocky upbringing. If cinema incite Forrest entrepreneur abandoning Hank-ies “Run-Forrest-Run” from Dan-ger against momma’s “life’s-like-box-of-chocolate” ideology, it’s time director learned “it’s-not-your-fault” by Goodwill-Hunting therapist channel Pain-and-Glory relishing Perks-of-Being-a-Wallflower detailing process behind Almost-Famous prosperity prior 500-Days-of-Summer Cinema-Paradiso relationship despite Mean-Girls arguing it’s better living Spectacular-Now relish today American Beauty rather than Boyhood past filmmaker neither have time nor energy adapting screen without stealing Slumdog-Millionaire lottery from Wonka-derful genius behind chocolate factories denying Rebel-Without-a-Cause An-Education following Hangover party run Dazed-and-Confused student proving celebrity don’t deserve Crying-Game empathy compared Ordinary-People refugee whose complexion burn under Moonlight in Beasts-of-no-Nation countries where Boy-in-Striped-Pajama follow go-Vernon-ing professor crashing Simple-Mind Sixteen-Candles birthday with Extremely-Loud-and-Incredibly-Close Don’t-You-(Forget-About-Me) melodies.

Hassan’s Grade: A-