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Starring: Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Jude Hill, Colin Morgan, Lara McDonnell, Gerard Horan, Conor MacNeill
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Drama written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. Belfast (2021) centers on a young boy Buddy (Jude Hill), and his working class family amid the tumult of Belfast, Northern Ireland in late 1960s.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Buddy: Paddy Kavanagh told me as long as Catholics keep confessing everything bad that they do to a priest, then they can do whatever they want, and God will forgive them
all the time.
Ma: Well, Paddy Kavanagh’s family’s not going to be living in this street for much longer, so you’d better check he’s not taking the hand out of you. I don’t know how it works. They get a lot of water thrown on them, and then they’re okay. I think that’s it.
Buddy: I’ve had too much God for one day.
Ma: Well, your granny says you can never have too much God. You might need him before too long.
Buddy: But, daddy, are you not going to be a vigilante on our barricade?
Pa: No more talk about bloody barricades. That whole nonsense will stop soon enough.
Ma: I wouldn’t be too sure about that.
Buddy: Was that our side that done all that to them Catholic houses in our street, daddy?
Pa: There is no our side and their side in our street. Or there didn’t used to be, anyway.
Pa: It’s all bloody religion. That’s the problem.
Buddy: Then why are you sending us to church?
Pa: Because your granny would kill me if I didn’t.
Buddy: But, daddy, if we were Catholics, we could not go to church, and then every once in a wee while, we could go in and confess. And then they’d have to tell us we were forgiven, and we wouldn’t have to go in again for ages.
Pa: I’ve nothing against Catholics. But it’s a religion of fear.
Pa: So the doctor says, “Listen, John. I’ve got some bad news and worse.” And John says, “Oh, no. What’s the bad news?” And he goes, “Well, you’ve only got twenty-four hours to live.” John says, “That’s awful. What could be worse than that?” Doctor says, “Well, I’ve been trying to get ahold of you since yesterday.”
Moira: They can just come up to you when you’re not expecting it, and ask you, “Are you Protestant or Catholic?” But it’s a trick question, you see, because they don’t tell you what they are. And what do you say then to not get a dig in the gob?
Buddy: “I’m a Catholic?”
Moira: Wrong. That’s exactly what they think you will say. They think you’re trying to bluff them. But you have to double-bluff them.
Moira: You say, “I’m a Protestant.”
Buddy: But I am a Protestant.
Moira: That’s the point!
Billy Clanton: We’re looking to cleanse the community a wee bit. You wouldn’t want to be the odd man out in this street. You saw what happened to your neighbors from the other side.
Pa: You touch my family, and I’ll kill you.
'Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart.' - Pop (Belfast) Click To Tweet
Frankie West: Not many people chose this.
Pa: There’s a few men hiding behind them barricades.
Frankie West: And they’ll keep hiding where they’re afraid for their families. It’s a waiting game now. When it’s time for that wall to come down, I’ll be the first to swing a hammer, but now? “They also serve who stand and wait.” We can’t all be acting the Lone Ranger.
Ma: No wonder you brought us to this.
Pa: It’s educational for the boys.
Ma: Aye. Raquel Welch is a hell of an education.
Pa: This is the time to think about making a new start.
Ma: I know nothing else but Belfast.
Pa: Exactly. There’s a whole world out there. We can give these boys a better chance than we ever had.
Pa: We’re living in a civil war, and I’m not here to protect my family.
Ma: [referring to the brochures of other countries] What are those supposed to be?
Pa: An escape route.
'What's yours is mine, and what's mine is my own.' - Granny (Belfast) Click To Tweet
Pop: [to Buddy] Women are very mysterious.
Granny: And women can smash your face in too, mister.
Pop: Your granny’s become less mysterious over the years.
Pop: [referring to Catherine] So, you really like her?
Buddy: When I grow up, I want to marry her.
Pop: Yeah, sounds like you really like her.
Buddy: [referring to Catherine’s home] I pass it every day on my way home. I try to look in, but she never sees me. She’s always doing her bloody homework. If she were a wee bit more stupid like me, we’d be sitting together by now.
Pop: Ah, “a pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love”.
Granny: Oh, he’s full of pretty answers, that one.
Granny: Here, take this threepenny bit. Get yourself a wee sweetie.
Buddy: I’m not allowed, Granny. My da says you can’t afford it.
Granny: I’m always saying to your man there, what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is me own.
Mr. Stewart: Right, Billy, we’ve no call for fists here.
Billy Clanton: Aye? Well, what is it the man says? A fist is only as good or bad as the man using it. Remember that.
[punches Stewart in the face]
'The Irish were born for leaving. Otherwise, the rest of the world would have no pubs.' - Auntie Violet (Belfast) Click To Tweet
Buddy: God. This takes ages. No wonder they call it long division.
Pop: Patience. Patience with the sums. Patience with the girl.
Pop: And now just make sure your numbers aren’t very clear to read. She might give you the benefit of the doubt if your seven looks like a one with a fancy tail, right? The same with a two and a six. Keep her guessing. That means you’ll have two or three horses in every race.
Buddy: Isn’t that cheating?
Pop: No, well, I’d call it spread betting. And if it gets you moved up by one seat to bask in the light of her glory, then you’re off to the races.
Buddy: But sure there’s only one right answer.
Pop: If that were true, son, people wouldn’t be blowing themselves up all over this town.
Buddy: I think my da wants us to leave Belfast.
Pop: What do you want?
Buddy: Every night, before I go to sleep, when I say my prayers, I ask God if he’d fix it so that when I wake up in the morning, I’m the best footballer in the world. And then I also ask him as well that when I grow up, can I marry Catherine. Even if she loves Ronnie Boyd. But she could still see him, but she’d marry me. That’s what I want.
Granny: Be careful what you wish for. That’s what the minister at the wee mission says.
'If you can't be good, be careful.' - Pa (Belfast) Click To Tweet
Catherine: [to Buddy] Have you gone to the moon yet? Do you want to, with me? It’ll save you getting cold waiting outside our house.
Pa: When did you write to them?
Ma: When the last receipt came through. I knew it was the last one because for three bloody years I’ve been counting them envelopes coming through that door, and there wasn’t so much as a thank you with this one.
Pa: It’s the taxman, for God’s sake. Who do you expect, Father Christmas?
Pa: My mother’s worried about you.
Pop: Your mother’s worried about you.
Pa: [to Buddy] Be good, son. If you can’t be good, be careful.
Pa: You’re going to need to stay away from my family.
Billy Clanton: That’s big talk for a fella who’s never here.
Pa: You can rely on me to be here when it matters.
Billy Clanton: I hope your timing’s good. Things get out of hand pretty quick round these parts.
'All the Irish need to survive is a phone, a Guinness, and the sheet music to Danny Boy.' - Auntie Violet (Belfast) Click To Tweet
Billy Clanton: Do you know the problem with men like you? You think you’re better than the rest of us.
Pa: And the problem with men like you is you know you’re not.
Billy Clanton: We’ll keep it simple. You’re with us, or you’re against us.
Billy Clanton: You’re a soft touch. Time for real Protestants to step up!
Pa: You’re no real Protestant. You’re a jumped-up gangster and always were.
Pa: Is that Paddy moving out?
Frankie West: Poor Catholics have no choice.
Pa: It’s a mad world.
Frankie West: Well, get used to it. We all live there now.
Ma: [referring to Australia] We might as well be going to the moon if we went down there.
Pa: Sure, you’ve already family there.
Ma: One second cousin.
Pa: And you’ve the phone.
Ma: And a millionaire to pay the bills?
Pa: We have to do something.
Ma: This is our home.
Auntie Violet: You’d break my heart to leave, but you have to think of them.
Ma: We can’t all leave. There’d be nobody left but the nutters.
Auntie Violet: Aye, and nobody to cook their tea, run messages, and wipe their a**ses. That’d make the violence stop in about ten minutes.
Ma: How could I leave Belfast?
Auntie Violet: I wouldn’t worry about it. The Irish were born for leaving. Otherwise, the rest of the world would have no pubs.
Auntie Violet: It just needs half of us to stay so that the other half can get sentimental about the ones that went. All the Irish need to survive is a phone, a Guinness, and the sheet music to Danny Boy.
Ma: You’re a terrible woman, you know that?
Pop: Everybody’s leaving home.
Granny: People have to move on.
Pop: “Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart.”
Granny: Oh, is that what does it?
Pop: Yeah, well, you don’t usually buy your wisdom with a walk in the park. Your heart has to explode.
Granny: Mr. Philosopher. And when did your heart ever explode?
Pop: That time I saw you in those brown stockings.
Pop: When you have gray hair, people think your heart never skipped.
Granny: Did yours ever skip?
Pop: Aye, it danced a bloody jig every time you walked in the room.
Granny: You were full of it then, and you’re full of it now.
Pop: Jimmy said he’d drive me to the hospital in the morning.
Granny: No, and I told him he would not. I’m taking you in on the bus. I’m walking you in, and when they’re done, you can be bloody sure I’m walking you back out again. Do you hear me? I’m walking you home. Do you hear me?
Pop: Yeah, I hear you, missus. Sure, when did I not?
Ma: What do you want?
Pa: I want my family with me. I want you.
Ma: But here, they can play wherever the hell they like, because everybody knows them, everybody likes them, and everybody looks after them. If we go over the water, them people’s not going to understand a word we say. And half of them, they’ll take the hand out of us for sounding different. And the other half, they’ll hate us because men here are killing their young sons on our streets. They’ll think we don’t give a s**te. And you think they’re going to welcome us with open arms? What, and say, “Come on in. Well done for stealing the house off of us?”
Pa: Things change.
Ma: Aye. They do.
Pop: [to Buddy] Have you wrote to Santa?
Ma: Oh, he has, but Santa’s explained that money’s a bit tight this year, so he’s not to expect too much.
Granny: Sure, Santa has plenty of surplus if you talk to the people in the know.
Pop: Don’t worry. Your mammy will persuade Santa to bring some presents.
Buddy: Ach, don’t think so, Pop. I always know when there’s no money.
Buddy: My ma says, if we went across the water, they wouldn’t understand the way we talk.
Pop: That shouldn’t be a problem, son. I’ve been married to your granny for fifty years. I’ve never understood a word she’s said. And if they can’t understand you, then they’re not listening, and that’s their problem.
Pop: You know who you are, don’t you?
Buddy: Yes, Pop.
Pop: You’re Buddy from Belfast fifteen, where everybody knows you, and your pop looks out for you, and your mummy looks out for you, your daddy looks out for you, your granny looks out for you, your brother looks out for you, and the whole family looks out for you. And wherever you go, and whatever you become, that’ll always be the truth. And that thought will keep you safe. It’ll keep you happy.
Pop: Now, forget about what your father and your mother want. What do you want?
Buddy: I want you and my granny to come too.
Granny: [to Buddy] You love your films, don’t you? I was a great one for the pictures when I was your age. I used to think you could climb right inside the screen and visit all those strange places you saw.
Buddy: I don’t want to leave Belfast!
Ma: We’ll fight this together.
Pa: Kids the same age as ours are getting killed around the corner.
Ma: Well, we’ll be careful.
Pa: You can’t be with them twenty-four hours a day.
Ma: You can’t take away their childhood either.
Pa: You know, whatever happens, what you’ve done with these two, it’s phenomenal.
Ma: What are you talking about?
Pa: You raised them. Not me. Not us. You. Thank you.
Buddy: They’re my chips!
Pa: What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is my own.
Buddy: Granny says that. What does that even mean?!
Pa: You’ll find out.
Moira: You’re one of us now, and this is it.
Buddy: This is what?
Moira: This is war.
Billy Clanton: [to Pa] Folks always have a problem with change. But you’d better get used to it, mister. People like me run this town now. And it’s people like you that bring us all down.
Ma: I caught sight of my face in that shop window when I was running down the street, and dragging them poor kids behind me. And I was looking in the mirror just now, at that same face. And I asked myself, “What the hell am I doing?” And then I was sick. Like I am every morning now. And I realized, I don’t think it really matters anymore. So, tomorrow, when Uncle Mack, and Auntie Violet come round, we’re going to start packing.
Pop: You have no choice. You know they’re going to come for you, don’t you? And this time, they’ll send somebody serious. Get yourselves to the moon. London’s only one small step for a man. Belfast will still be here when you get back.
Buddy: Will you?
Pop: I’m going nowhere you won’t find me.
Pa: [to Buddy and Catherine] Now, tell me this, seeing as you two will know. How do I get to the moon with only ten pound, three leaky umbrellas, and my bus pass?
Mackie: [to Buddy] Mind you, I’m glad your Aunt Violet’s away up the stairs there with your ma. She keeps banging on now about how Northern Ireland’s got the highest rates of chlomestremol in the world. Sure, I think it’s great that we’re world champions at something.
Buddy: [at Pop’s funeral] That was a lot of people that came to see him today.
Pa: Aye. He was very popular. And he owed half of them money.
Pa: [referring to Pop] He was a very deep thinker. A very deep thinker.
Buddy: Did he help you?
Pa: Yeah. Yeah, he did help me. He helped me a lot.
Buddy: [refering to Catherine] Daddy, do you think me and that wee girl have a future?
Pa: Well, why the heck not?
Buddy: You know she’s a Catholic?
Pa: Oh. That wee girl can be a practicing Hindu, or a Southern Baptist, or a vegetarian antichrist, but if she’s kind, and she’s fair, and you two respect each other, she and her people are welcome in our house any day of the week. Agreed? Mind you, does that mean you and me have to start going to confession?
Pa: That’s us two in trouble then.
Granny: [as she’s watching Buddy, Pa, Ma, and Will leave on the bus] Go. Go now. Don’t look back. I love you, son.