BELFAST is a movie straight from Branagh’s own experience. A nine-year-old boy must chart a path towards adulthood through a world that has suddenly turned upside down. His stable and loving community and everything he thought he understood about life is changed forever but joy, laughter, music, and the formative magic of the movies remain.
The cast stars Golden Globe nominee Caitríona Balfe, Academy Award winner Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, and introduces the ten-year-old Jude Hill. Dornan and Balfe play a passionate working-class couple caught up in the mayhem, with Dench and Hinds as the quick-witted grandparents. The film is produced by Branagh, Laura Berwick, Becca Kovacik, and Tamar Thomas.
In the summer of 1969, nine-year-old Buddy knows exactly who he is and where he belongs. He’s working-class, North Belfast, happy, loved, and safe. His world is a fast and funny street life lived largely in the heart of a community that laughs together and sticks together.
Where your extended family lives in the same street and where it’s impossible to get lost because everyone in Belfast knows everyone else, or so it seems. And in every spare minute, in the darkness of movie theatres and in front of the television, American films and American TV are the transporting and intoxicating currency of Buddy’s inner life and of his dreams.
But as the 1960s stagger to a close, even as a man stands on the moon itself, the dog days of August turn Buddy’s childhood dreams into a nightmare. Simmering social discontent suddenly explodes in Buddy’s own street and escalates, fast. First a masked attack, then a riot, and finally a city-wide conflict, with religion fanning the flames further afield. Catholics vs Protestants, loving neighbors just a heartbeat ago, set on to be deadly foes now.
Buddy must make sense of the chaos and hysteria and of this new physical landscape of lockdown, peopled by heroes and villains, once only glimpsed on the cinema screen but now threatening to upturn everything he knows and loves as an epic struggle plays out in his own backyard.
His Ma struggles to cope while his Pa works away in England, trying to make enough money to support the family. Vigilante law rules, innocent lives are threatened. Buddy knows what to expect from his heroes – he’s spent hours in front of Westerns like High Noon and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance–but can his father be the hero he needs him to be? Will his mother sacrifice her past in order to protect her family’s future? How can his beloved grandparents be kept safe? And how can he love the girl of his dreams?
The answers lie in Buddy’s compelling, funny, poignant, and heartbreaking journey through riots, violence, the joy and despair of family relationships, and the agony of first love, all accompanied by the dancing, music, and laughter that only the Irish can muster when the world turns upside down.
Because what else can Buddy do? This is his only world. This is Belfast.
Belfast will be in theaters only November 12th, 2021