Belfast (2021)

Belfast is a 2021 British coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. The film stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, and newcomer Jude Hill. The film, which Branagh has described as his “most personal film”, follows a young boy’s childhood in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the beginning of The Troubles in 1969.



Movie info

BELFAST is a movie straight from Branagh’s own experience. A nine-year-old boy must chart a path towards adulthood through a world that has suddenly turned upside down. His stable and loving community and everything he thought he understood about life is changed forever but joy, laughter, music and the formative magic of the movies remain.

  • Rating: PG-13 (Strong Language | Some Violence)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Kenneth Branagh
  • Producer: Kenneth Branagh, Laura Berwick, Becca Kovacik, Tamar Thomas
  • Writer: Kenneth Branagh
  • Cast: Jude Hill, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, Lewis McAskie, Lara McDonnell, Gerard Horan, Turlough Convery, Sid Sagar, Josie Walker, Chris McCurry, Colin Morgan, Freya Yates, Nessa Eriksson, Charlie Barnard, Frankie Hastings, Máiréad Tyers, Caolan McCarthy, Ian Dunnett Jr., Drew Dillon, Michael Maloney, Rachel Feeney, Elly Condron, Samuel Menhinick, James O’Donnell, Leonard Buckley, Estelle Cousins, Scott Gutteridge, Bill Branagh
  • Release Date (Theaters): Nov 12, 2021  Wide
  • Release Date (Streaming): Dec 2, 2021
  • Box Office (Gross USA): $8.9M
  • Runtime: 1h 37m
  • Distributor: Focus Features

Critic reviews for Belfast (2021)

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 86% based on 309 reviews, with an average rating of 7.90/10. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 55 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A–” on an A+ to F scale, while 79% of filmgoers at PostTrak said they would definitely recommend it.

Whimsical in the most imaginative sense, their conversations make it very easy to give Kenneth Branagh the benefit of the doubt. If the reality was not like this, it should have been. Full Review | Original Score: 4/5

Sandra Hall – Sydney Morning Herald

The film, with a soundtrack of mostly familiar but appropriate Van Morrison songs, is clearly a labour of love, and the final scenes are immensely moving. Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5

David Stratton – The Australian

Kenneth Branagh’s unabashedly feelgood memoir of growing up in Belfast as the Troubles erupted in the late 1960s suffers from a problem of perspective. Full Review | Original Score: 2/5

Simran Hans – Observer (UK)

I loved it. Full Review | Original Score: 5/5

Charlotte O’Sullivan – London Evening Standard

The film is manipulative, and sentimental, and it does sometimes feel derivative… But it is also sincere, affectionate, involving and presses its buttons so deftly I welled up exactly as I was supposed to. At least three times. Full Review

Deborah Ross – The Spectator

A twinkly-eyed childhood memoir – and rigorously fashioned to be an Oscar frontrunner. Full Review | Original Score: 3/5

Clarisse Loughrey – Independent (UK)

A syrupy memoir offering little insight into a turbulent time. Full Review | Original Score: 2/5

Hannah Strong – Little White Lies

At its best, Belfast recalls Hope and Glory, John Boorman’s 1987 film based on its director’s own Blitz-battered childhood. Full Review | Original Score: 3/5

Robbie Collin – Daily Telegraph (UK)

It lights up the dark, the way even now a fill-um can. Full Review | Original Score: 4/5

Danny Leigh – Financial Times

Branagh’s theatrical career has made him expert in holding and moving an audience — and, since this is a once-in-a-lifetime project, why not give it everything and embrace full sentimentality? Full Review

David Sexton – London Evening Standard

Slight but winning. Full Review | Original Score: 4/5

Ian Freer – Empire Magazine

Possibly the most uplifting film ever made about a time of unending violence, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast comes with a bruised heart and an unquenchable spirit of optimism. Full Review | Original Score: 4/5

Philip De Semlyen – Time Out

…both grand and intimate, gooey sweet and shockingly violent, life-affirming and cynical. Full Review

Mara Reinstein – Us Weekly

‘Belfast’ is not just a movie photographed in black and white, but a story told that way – the Troubles as coming-of-age narrative, a thing happening in the background while a young boy reckons with bickering parents and how to talk to girls. Full Review

Jason Bailey – Crooked Marquee

One could fault Branagh, one supposes, for not painting a grimmer, more naturalistic portrait of his problematic birthplace, but his mission is not to recreate childhood as history, but rather as a highly selective source of one’s artistic inspiration. Full Review

John Anderson – America Magazine

The director had a vision, it’s shot well, and after a while you don’t even notice it’s a black and white film with the way it pulls you in… Full Review | Original Score: A

tt stern-enzi – WXIX-TV (Cincinnati, OH)

Branagh tries to pair his pint-sized protagonist’s moments of joy with the harsh realities of living in a society coming apart. But in its carefully choreographed nostalgia, it is all too twinkly eyed to make much of an impact. Full Review

Esther Zuckerman – Thrillist

Gorgeously shot (Haris Zambarloukos) B&W footage, with exquisite lighting and ample portrait-like closeups, makes this memoir eye-catching and enchanting. Full Review | Original Score: 3/4

Dwight Brown – National Newspaper Publishers Association

Belfast is Branagh’s love letter to his family, his neighborhood, a way of life that doesn’t exist any longer. It’s neither complex nor rigorous — nostalgia rarely is — but it does leave a lump in the throat. Full Review

Max Weiss – Baltimore Magazine

It’s like Branagh is flipping through a family photo album, giving us curated glimpses of these relatives and their lives. Full Review

Kristy Puchko – Mashable

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