Watch | 05. Dec 2021

About A Boy

The critics are raving. "Who knew he had it in him? Kenneth Branagh (...) has made a masterpiece," The Times writes and compares the movie´s chances to get nominated for several Oscars with those of 2019 "Roma" - which walked away with the Best Picture trophy in the end.

So you figure you´d better watch Kenneth Branagh´s latest movie, "Belfast". His most personal one as the director got not tired to claim at every Film Festival interview he gave.

Sitting in a completely empty "Angelica" movie theatre in New York I wondered: Would there ever be any Not-Irish-person of that very generation who gets the story? Let alone: the dialect?

Having grown up in Northern Ireland´s capital in the late Sixites and therfore in the middle of a civil war between Catholics and Potestants that shook Great Britain in its core for almost thirty years, Branagh fails to really involve us into the situation by telling us more about the backgrounds. We just watch a kind of youthful and modern looking mob attacking a more conservative neighbourhood.

Also: Everthing looks really pretty. Like a musical setting. Thanks to cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos and an obvious sentimental point of view of the director.

What an enchanting, loving family! Maybe the only one in those days who loved each other so dearly, understanding each other so profoundly and taking care of each other any minute. The boys behave as if educated at the same boarding schools as the Roayal family, supported by loving parents who seriously try to help them overcoming every difficulty in their lives.

As if parents of that generation would have ever involved their children into their lifestyle plans - they just decided what they wanted to do and then tell them, period. Then there are those grandparents who talk like the great philosophers of their times. And there are sports and fun games on sundays, movie nights with the whole family as well as fairy tale Christmas eves and parents dancing with each other at funerals as if that was their very first date - I mean:

We are talking about working class people here - has Branagh ever heard about a writer called Charles Dickens? Has he ever heard of domestic violance and drinking abuse that grew quite popular in this community back then?

The actors are great, led by the boy Buddy (played by Jude Hill) even though he seems a kind of vanity project of the director as a child:

Oh my, is he cute, Oh my, is he smart. And sooooo kind. And sooooo strong minded!!!

As he knows that his parents (referred to as only Ma and Pa and played also brilliantly by Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan) keep arguing over whether they should stay in Belfast or flee the violence and live overseas it is due to his understanding at that time that we also do not understand what is going on:

"People will not understand a word of what we say..." his mother is worrying about moving to another country, may it be England, Cananda or Australia.

That is so true. And that verdict is not only about language and subtitles.