Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Rated PG 13
Actor turned Director Kenneth Branagh creates a semi-autobiographical film the relives the life of a working-class family and their young son's childhood during the late 1960s in the Northern Ireland capital. Most of us only vaguely remember what turmoil was happening in Northern Ireland back in the 60’s. We probably hear about “The Troubles” on the news, but don’t know how it personally affected the people living through it. This movie makes a time in history that was spread over 30 years, personal and real for the viewer.
Jamie Dornan, from the Fifty Shades franchise, plays Pa. A young husband and father that lives in a very tight knit community with his wife and son in Northern Ireland. He has to work in London, so he is not always at home to be with his family. Caitríona Balfe, from Outlander, Plays Ma and does most of the work around the house and raising of their son. Buddy is their young son and he is full of curiosity and life. He has known this one town his entire life and everyone knows him.
Branagh shows us the humanity and connection of a small community. They all look after one another, know everyone’s each other's names and are an extension of your life. When riots break out on their street the neighborhood really shows its true colors and they stick together. While “The Troubles” ultimately was a political fight, there was a big religious aspect of it between Protestants and Catholics. This is what was highlighted in the film. There are moments in the film that people in the neighborhood need to decide what side to take. Pa, who is Protestant, is pressured to join the riot group to help get the Catholics out. Neither he or his wife want any part of it. It is hard enough to raise a kid, but to do it during this kind of social uprising is even harder.
This film is in black and white for the most part and fueled by a fantastic and nostalgic score of predominantly Van Morrison songs. Even though it is in black and white, this film is colorful and beautiful. It takes something that was so loud and untouchable in its time and turns it into a small intimate look at how something like this changes the world around us. Great performances by all, including Dame Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds. This movie is a favorite to be nominated for Best Picture, so keep your eye on it.