After Artemis Fowl and Murder on the Orient Express you may have had concerns about Kenneth Branagh ever helming a film again — keep away, Ken, keep away! — but Belfast is plainly a different prospect. It is an autobiographical account of his earliest years growing up in Belfast during the Troubles, and it is heartfelt, warm and authentic even if it does sometimes tip into the overly sentimental and nostalgic. That said, it was good to see Omo washing powder once again. (It added ‘brightness to whiteness’, you may remember.)
Branagh, who wrote the screenplay and directs, was born in Belfast but moved to the south of England with his family when he was nine and this film asks what his parents must have asked themselves: how bad does it have to get before you leave everything and everyone you know? The film opens with drone shots of modern-day Belfast but then leaches into black and white as we spool back to 1969 and a working-class street where it’s clear everyone knows each other and the children are happily playing outside.