Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray and Digital from writer/director Kenneth Branagh and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment tells one story of a family in BELFAST.

It is 1969 Belfast, Northern Ireland, and young Buddy (Jude Hill) is living his best childhood playing in the streets with friends. At home is Ma (Caitriona Balfe), Granny (Dame Judy Dench), Pop (Ciaran Hinds) and Will (Lewis McAskie). Pa (Jamie Dornan) is away most of the time working at a job in England.

This is a time of unrest as Protestants begin to attack Catholics on the same street where Buddy and his family live. The young man is busy with his feelings about classmate Catherine and how he can move his seat up closer and closer to hers. He also has to worry about Billy Clanton (Colin Morgan) who is making it clear he will make trouble for Buddy’s Pa if he does not join the cause.

Buddy finds support and love with grandparents Granny and Pop who keep him focused. They also share in the family life and love being with their grandson Buddy. Getting tips and words of wisdom from both, Buddy cannot imagine life without them.

Pa wants to do what is best for his family and that means thinking about leaving Belfast which is met with resistance. Buddy is upset and falls into family friend Moira’s (Lara McDonnell) plot to steal. It gets even worse when riots break out and she once again grabs him for trouble. Ma jumps into the madness but the British Army arrives and now the family knows what must be done.

That is their world in Belfast.

Hill as Buddy is a young boy who is happy playing with his friends, going to school and spending time with his grandparents. Knowing that things are difficult in Belfast, he also knows that things are difficult for his parents with money and being apart. This character learns early about the tax man and the fight against Catholics, which is devastating since the girl he cares for is Catholic. Hill gives us all a look inside the life of this young man with all the emotions of a boy his age and some emotions that are much older than needs be. I loved his performance.

Balfe as Ma has a clear set of rules in the house and the behavior she expects from her children. Raising them to be good people, she is also trying to keep them alive during a time that is deadly and dangerous. Balfe gives us a strong character that believes in family and loyalty. Dornan as Pa must leave his family for weeks at a time to take care of them financially. He also believes that leaving Belfast is the only way to save them from what is happening on the streets. Dornan gives his character a love of family trying to find the balance that will keep them together.

Dench as Granny has me in stiches with her views on life and relationship with Buddy. There is one particular scene where she broke my heart because I could not imagine ever having to do what she does with such grace. Hinds as Pop is equally as lovely with his wit, stories and knowing that Pa has to do what is right and not to look back. There is such a strong connection between Buddy and his grandparents, and it brings back personal memories.

Morgan as Clanton is determined to bring Pa into things that not only could get him killed but hurt his family as well. Morgan’s character brings fear to Buddy which follows the young boy around like a weighted backpack. McAskie as Will also sees what is happening and finds it difficult to know how to handle it all.

Other cast include Olive Tennant as Catherine, Gerard Horan as Mackie, Josie Walker as Aunt Violet, Turlough Convery as the Minister, Vanessa Ifediora as Miss Lewis, Conor MacNeill as McLaury, Drew Dillon as Mr. Kavanagh, and Gerard McCarthy as Bobby Frank.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit

MOVIES ANYWHERE gives viewers the ability to download the Movies Anywhere App. With that you can view films by downloading or streaming to your favorite device using a Digital Code. For more information on Movies Anywhere please visit

Bluray and Digital Bonus Features include Alternate Ending featuring Kenneth Branaugh (which is so touching), Deleted Scenes, A City of Stories: The Making of BELFAST, Everyone’s Inner Child and Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Kenneth Branagh.

BELFAST has been nominated for over 230 awards include seven Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, eleven Critic’s Choice Awards and fourteen Best Picture nominations as well as PGA and DGA Awards nominations for director Kenneth Branagh.

The music is absolutely stunningly placed in the film with Belfast born musician Van Morrison.  Song such as Wild Night, Stranded, Days Like This, Warm Love, and Jackie Wilson Said add to the richness of the story and, I must admit, I am a huge Van Morrison fan.

BELFAST is such a lovely, heartbreaking, funny, real look at a time that is captured by director Branagh. It is the young Hill who draws the viewer in and his family that makes us want to stay. It is a story of a young boy who comes to understand adulting way to soon and it is a story of a generational family trying their best.

The director not only dabs color that are brilliantly placed in the black and white film but ends it with the heartfelt “For the ones who stayed. For the ones who left. And for all the ones who were lost.”, and I felt that, deeply.

In the end – never forget where you came from!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.