Kenneth Branagh must have had the most bland and basic childhood if this, an autobiographical film, is supposed to be his most personal work yet. In the 98-minute runtime of Belfast, (which felt like 98 years), there is no sense of personality in the framework of this movie. Branagh isn’t the daring and exciting auteur filmmaker he believes himself to be – if Shakespeare adaptations means you’re an auteur, then lol – because this is one of the most unoriginal and surfaced level “examinations” of childhood and memory I've ever seen. There's no personality at all in this film, nothing in this makes me go “Hey, this is DEFINITELY by the guy who gave us... (checks notes)… Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit ” and that’s just everything in his filmography: Belfast is the cherry on top of a filmmaker’s filmography that demonstrates no artistry behind it.

Every moment in this film feels like we, the audience, are watching it through a window and Branagh is sitting next to us probably scarfing down a bucket of popcorn buying into the shit he’s making us watch: I don’t understand – but completely respect – how people are connecting with this when he, in no way shape or form, gives us anything to grasp onto. What is so clearly a failing attempt at dipping into the Social Realism movement ends up giving us absolutely nothing about the time period in which Buddy Branagh grew up in – the socio-political turmoil is reduced to imaginary dragons and distrusting parents (like seriously, no one in this family trusts each other in this and it’s honestly hilarious how Branagh is so sure of himself in creating an affective and relatable film).

Songs that exist in the film because they merely remind us of the time period and not enhance the experience or provide an emotional justification for their existence, political elements not even touched because that would announce a side (but also, a personality!), and a half-assed family drama that really ends up nowhere; this is our future Best Picture winner, I'm calling it now. I can’t tell you how much I hated this – if it wasn’t apparent – but for a film to just have absolutely no personality and then decide to be a “personal” look at the filmmaker’s past is just... a baffling and idiotic choice; Branagh spends most of his time attempting to match the brilliance of Terence Davies when he barely can swing for Tom Hooper. Just an empty, empty film filled with absolutely nothing of worth. The star is for Hinds, because I love him.

Branagh is the reminder as to why some personal stories are just better left mentioned at the dinner table. There's no reason for this to exist, it amounts to nothing and it adds nothing and it reveals nothing about Branagh as an artist. Like, clearly the dude loves Billy Shakespeare, so even adding that little tidbit in Buddy's story would've given us SOME personality. Boring! I just... why? Bastardizing film.

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