Belfast ★★

Man, this movie is dull. It’s not poorly made, but it never feels like anything more than a collection of scenes. Sure, there is an overarching plot, and even films without a plot can be great, but this film never feels connected.

Part of it must be the surface-level nature of everything here. The film seems to want to be important, but it’s mostly the same two or three conversations happening over and over. There isn’t a sense of flow or purpose to it, it’s just scenes from Kenneth Branagh’s childhood. This is rife for drama, as he grew up during The Troubles, but Branagh never really nails the feeling of danger. It’s all just a bit too paint-by-numbers to ever feel real. It winds up falling in the limbo between realism and sentimentality, never really achieving either.

The closest it comes is during the scenes with Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds. Though not necessarily written deeply, these two actors find the heart and soul of their characters. It feels like they each created another dimension all by themselves. The rest of the actors are good, but stuck with characters who don’t get developed enough.

There is some good artistry to the film, but it can’t make up for a movie that hasn’t figured itself out. Unfortunately, what this means is that the movie never actually becomes interesting.

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