In my opinion, the movie “Belfast” (2021) was nothing exceptional. Its most unique quality, and what makes it stand out from most “Drama” movies set in “wartime” is its focus on the 9-year-old, protestant, protagonist Buddy. In the movie we see a family dispute escalate as their neighbourhood in the city of Belfast is continuously caught up in the ongoing conflict between Loyalist Catholics and Unionist Protestants. Buddy’s father, who works in England wants the family to move away from Belfast to remain safe, his desire to leave increases as a growing group of protestant rioters keep on harassing the neighbourhood. Buddy’s mother on the other hand wants to stay, she doesn’t want to leave her friends and family, and move away from the only home she knows. Buddy as a young and ignorant child doesn’t understand the seriousness of the situation, neither the conflict between his parents nor the large geopolitical conflict happening in his home country. We see this ignorance portrayed in a matter of ways, such as when; we see him confused and scared when the first riot breaks out, and a second time when his older cousin asks him how he should respond to the question “Are you catholic or protestant?”.
As for the cinematography, the movie is shot in black and white to portray the movie being set in the past and to invoke a feeling of nostalgia. Which is entirely unnecessary since the movie is set in between the late 1960s to 1998, which is more than a decade after coloured TV became publicly accessible; they even show this in the movie with the family attending a cinema where the film is in colours. The setting is also in a small rural town in the city of Belfast, with historically accurate clothing, housing and vehicles; there is however an error with the design in buddy’s school, where in a wide shot where we see it has modern windows with a rotation function, which differ from every other set of windows in the movie. While on the topic of nostalgia, in the movie there are a couple of scenes where they play traditional Irish music to make it seem authentic, there is also a heavy emphasis in the Irish accent.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this movie if you’re looking for information on the conflict in Northern Ireland itself, Buddy is as mentioned an ignorant child who doesn’t understand the conflict and is hence an unreliable source. However, I would recommend it to someone looking for a light-hearted family friendly drama, or if you are looking for the lifestyles of the average people living in Northern Ireland during the conflict.
I personally prefer more documentary style movies or series if they are to depict a conflict, although there are exceptions, such as “Schindler’s list” and “The last king of Scotland”, however this movie was not one of them. It didn’t strike the same emotions or depict the seriousness of the conflict that I had hoped, there were also several points where I questioned the plot and some of the creative decisions.
I give “Belfast” (2021) a rating of 3/5