Okayenneth Branagh’s unabashedly feelgood memoir of rising up in Belfast because the Troubles erupted within the late Sixties suffers from an issue of perspective. Canted digicam angles are rendered in flat, too-clean black and white; the movie leans laborious into its intentionally skewed baby’s standpoint. 9-year-old Buddy (newcomer Jude Hill) hops, skips and jumps by rows of chocolate-box terrace homes to a bouncy soundtrack of Van Morrison. His household, which incorporates Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds’s cutesy Granny and Pop, discover solace on the films.
Buddy’s household are Protestants; their Catholic neighbours will quickly be pushed out of their properties by sectarian hostility. Jamie Dornan’s Pa is a labourer working in England who returns house to a rising pile of unpaid payments and violence brewing on the streets. The impressionable Buddy is inspired by a schoolfriend to loot a grocery store; implausibly, Ma (Caitríona Balfe) marches him again into the thick of the violence to return a field of stolen washing powder.
The patina of nostalgia is used to keep away from contextualising the Troubles, one thing the household feels separate from. A 30-year battle that began with civil rights protests is boiled right down to a imprecise downside of “bloody faith”. In any case, Buddy’s crush is a Catholic. “She might be a vegetarian antichrist for all I care,” Pa reassures him.