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11-year-old steals the show in Kenneth Brannagh biopic 'Belfast'



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Belfast (12A), reviewed at the Light Cinema, Wisbech

Starring: Jude Hill, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds

Running time: 1hr 38m Director: Sir Kenneth Branagh

Belfast
Belfast

Many in the movie industry believe 11-year-old Jude Hill will become the youngest person in the Oscar running for nearly a century when the nominations are revealed on February 8.

And the youngster from County Down, who has already won four awards and been nominated for countless others for his role as Buddy, deserves all the praise he gets.

After watching ‘Fifty Shades’ star Jamie Dornan excel in the gripping BBC drama ‘The Tourist’ recently, I expected him to be the main player in this semi-autobiographical, fictionalised comedy-drama about a young Sir Kenneth Branagh, but this is all about Hill.

He plays the youngest of two sons in a working class Northern Irish family during the Troubles of the late 1960s.

The film, shot in black and white – and to a soundtrack mostly of Belfast hero Van Morrison –starts with Buddy playing in the street of this close-knit community, when a Protestant gang marches through and attacks Catholic properties.

Soon the British Army is controlling the street and life for Buddy’s Protestant family and their neighbours will never be the same again.

Although this film is set during the ethno-nationalist conflict, it’s a film about family as much as anything.

Buddy’s relationship with his ‘ma’ Caitriona Balfe and ‘pa’ Jamie Dornan is solid and loving, but the bond he shares with his pop Ciarán Hinds and granny Judi Dench is particularly moving. Hinds gives a superbly warm, endearing performance as pop and Dench gives what you’d expect from one of Britain’s best.

Balfe superbly portrays a loving mum conflicted between staying on he streets she loves and moving to England, where her children would be safe but open to prejudice.

And Dornan is likeable as ‘pa,’ but I’m not exaggerating when I say Jude Hill’s is the best movie debut from a cild since Macaulay Culkin in the 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone.

Rating: 8/10

By Jeremy Ransome



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