Dir: Kenneth Branagh | Cast: Judy Dench, Ciaran Hinds, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Drama, UK
Kenneth Branagh’s happy little film glosses over the turbulence of The Troubles to give us a candy-coated memoire of his Protestant childhood in backstreet Belfast of the Sixties.
Most of us remember the endless reports on the telly and radio recounting the horrors of Catholic and Protestant confrontations in the ‘bogside’ area of the capital. And there’s no attempt to brush these under the carpet, but staged in lustrous monochrome set pieces the hostilities seem almost thrilling from his character Buddy’s cheeky 9 year-old perspective (Jude Hill is perfect for the part). Dressed in grey flannel shorts, a shirt and tie he watches it all from the bedroom window of his family’s two-up two down terrace where he grows up with his parents (Dornan and Balfe) and grandparents (Hinds and Dench) and older brother Will (McAskie). It’s a picture of domestic bliss.
The upbeat freewheeling storyline drifts from home to pub to schoolroom with a focus on his father’s constant trips to England to chase lucrative work as a carpenter, before the family eventually moved there. This leaves Buddy time alone to fathom out the religious conflict in his own mind, and dream and scheme about girls with his grandfather Pa, a jovial Ciaran Hinds, Judy Dench bringing them both down to earth with a cutting comment or two. There are trips on the bus and family outings to the ‘pictures’ to see Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC and A Christmas Carol. A redolent score by Van Morrison seems apt for this perfectly pitched family drama telling it just how it was back then. MT
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM | EE BAFTAS 2022 I RED SEA FILM FESTIVAL 2021