The hit of the Telluride Film Festival last weekend was Belfast, Kenneth Branagh’s new film inspired by his own childhood growing up in Belfast, Ireland during The Troubles. The film is due to premiere at TIFF this weekend, and it will be interesting to see how it does with the audience award there. If it adds TIFF clout to its roster over the next week, Belfast could become one of the Oscar heavyweights of the year. Makes sense, as it looks rather a lot like Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, another black-and-white period piece inspired by a filmmaker’s own childhood drama, which earned ten Oscar nominations and went on to win three of them.
It’s not that Belfast looks bad, it does not. It looks quite charming, with a Cute Child playing in the streets of 1960s Belfast even as his parents, played by Catriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan, deal with threats and violence comes to those same streets where children play. Compelling stuff! Derry Girls also gets a lot of dramatic mileage out of kids growing up during The Troubles, though a generation after Branagh’s own childhood. The only real issue I have with Belfast’s trailer is how derivative it looks of other works, particularly Roma. It really does look like Branagh saw Roma and walked right out of the theater and into an executive’s office to pitch his own childhood tale as a movie.