Belfast: the space where Kenneth Branagh’s film takes place may be physically restrained, but it’s so lovingly recreated and lively that it’s hardly an issue. The extended family is a charming and relatable group of characters; the protagonist, allegedly the director’s surrogate, is an energetic and lovely boy. If there is any doubt about what the Troubles are, that’s because those are his doubts. There is no doubt about the strength of his mother, the loving presence of his grandparents, the charm of his father, and the naïve mischievousness of his cousin. The performances are quite good: Jude Hill, as the protagonist; Caitríona Balfe, as the mother; Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds, as the grandparents; Jamie Dornan, as the father. The work of the director of photography Haris Zambarloukos, in beautiful black-and-white, eschews away from the traditional, with the camera moving in unexpected ways and with unusual framings, creating a visually diverse film. Good editing by Úna Ní Dhonghaíle, and fine use of music as well, instrumental in dialing up the nostalgia.
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