The Pull Of Home

Stars: Jude Hill, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds, Lewis McAskie, Lara McDonnell and Colin Morgan
Director/Scriptwriter: Kenneth Branagh
Composer: Van Morrison
Cinematography: Haris Zambarloukos
Northern Ireland Screen/Focus Features
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 98 minutes 

Actor/writer/director Kenneth Branagh is known for his films that contain action and set hundreds of years ago (Henry?  And my favorite, “Much Ado About Nothing.”) Now, Branagh looks into his own past and is giving the audience a look at how and where he grew up – Belfast, Ireland. One can remember “Angela’s Ashes” for reminiscing, also. It is 1969.. In Belfast, here  is the life of a young man, This is nostalgia for the good old days. Buddy (played admirably by newcomer Jude Hill) and his family who are happy where they live. There are Grandma (Judi Dench from “Six Minutes to Midnight”) and Grandpa (Ciaran Hinds from television’s “The Horror”) nearby, plus friends, and life is fine. That is, until there is political unrest and then problems begin. Peeking behind lace curtains to see what is happening in the street, as though the lace could shield one from violence 

In Belfast, Buddy is nine years old and has a brother, Will (Lewis McAskie). There is Mom (Caitriona Balfe from “The Outlander”) and Dad (Jamie Dornan from “50 Shades of Gray.”) Dad goes to England for work. The family lives in an area of Belfast called “Belfast 15.” Being Irish is an honor, but there is that division in Ireland between Catholic and Protestant. Buddy’s family isn’t bothered in this area because they are Protestant. This is the time when a group called Troubies begin serious trouble. 

We see the daily life of the family, the gatherings, laughter, and the warmness of family. Buddy  loves the movies and when he has an opportunity to see one, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” in color—he is astonished, and we see the color, too. Then, we see what happens when trouble and looting is going on and Buddy is involved. His mother, values honesty and has Buddy take something back. Dad says, “If You can’t be good, be careful.”. Eventually, there comes a time when it may be dangerous to live in that area. What to do? This is an emotional moment for everyone. 

“Belfast” gives another viewpoint of living in the middle of political unrest and having to move. We see that today around the world.  Branagh has a good eye for camera angles and using black and white to full advantage for shadows. This was a wise choice and gives a sense of depth to the film, you concentrate on the dialogue and characters and not the scenery. There are riots and police presence, and still life goes in spite of this, there is the warmth of family and the knowledge that they are always with you, either physically or in one’s heart.  

There are strong performances in this film, from Jude Hill’s “Buddy” to Judi Dench’s “Grandma,” Ciaran Hinds “Grandpa,” Caitriona Balfe’s Mom and Jamie Dornan’s Dad.  It would not be a surprise to see Oscar nominations here including director and for his script. 


Copyright 2021 Marie Asner