Belfast: Pretentious and Overrated


The one scene in the movie that I enjoyed.

Gavin Clingham, Staff Writer

***Mild spoilers for Belfast if you care about this movie for some reason.***

Belfast: the movie that swept countless awards at every single movie awards show last year. The movie that was being hyped by critics after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival and was being sold as a movie for pretentious cinephiles like me. The movie my grandparents were even talking about nonstop. Grandma, Grandpa, I love you both so much, but I do not agree with your opinion at all. This is not a film for pretentious cinephiles. In fact, as illustrated by the majority of Letterboxd reviews, we all hate Belfast. It is an absolute travesty that this film won Best Original Screenplay. I could have been slapped in the face by Will Smith 400 times and nothing would’ve felt worse than the slap in the face of that win. It’s a movie so full of itself and arrogant that I go from thinking it’s a flawed movie to thinking it’s a terrible movie. 

Belfast follows a young boy (Jude Hill). This boy lives in Northern Ireland (in Belfast). The year is 1969. The boy is surrounded by violence during a catholic persecution. The boy lives with his ma (Catríona Balfe) and pa (Jamie Dorman). He has an older brother (Lewis McAskie). We don’t see much of him. The young boy is now pressed with a question in this violence. Is he going to have to leave Belfast? Will we get the answer? No. Because this short description using incomplete sentences is the best way I can describe this movie. It is meaningless, barely planned, and cut in places it shouldn’t be cut in. And if it somehow felt long to read my short description, that’s how the movie felt too. It’s somehow an hour and 38 minutes and yet it feels so much longer than that. The movie needed so much more plotting to keep the story strong but I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any longer. So I’m stuck in a state of feeling that this is not a good movie. 

The family watching “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” which is a movie I also hate (

Its biggest issue is essentially its cuts. Several scenes end way too soon and they end without getting a proper resolution. I felt like Parallel Mothers (2021) suffered from not giving complex scenes the runtime to breathe but I feel like this film cut half the material out of every scene and some character development too. It really feels like this film was originally 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but the studio demanded that they cut it down to 1 hour and 38 minutes. That’s the only explanation I could find for this empty messy story. Fact of the matter is that this could’ve been a genuinely meaningful autobiographical story if all the ideas had been put together properly. It got to the point where I was disinterested in every plot point. One example is that I already didn’t care about the boy trying to woo his crush because the story focused way too much time on it and then completely forgot about it. Another example is that I didn’t really feel a gut punch that the film expected me to have when the boy’s friend ended up being an Anti-Catholic rioter. And would you believe that I have another example? This being that I literally felt nothing when the grandpa died. I am a very weak person so I’ll cry at a scene even if I feel like it’s begging me to feel emotion. This was one of the first times I saw a movie that made me feel nothing at a death (the easiest thing to make someone sad about in a movie). I looked at my mom to see if I was the only one feeling nothing and she was dead asleep (which is how I felt mentally). The big problem is that if there is no set-up to make me feel sad, I’m not going to feel sad when the film wants me to. If you want me to feel sad, make me sad. Don’t just yell at me, “BE SAD” because that’s not all it takes. 

Next issue: Kenneth Branagh (just Kenneth Branagh). I absolutely hate how mainstream the entire craft of this movie feels. It feels like I’ve been teleported to the time when filmmakers just spit out Oscar bait and told stories without a soul. I don’t understand how this semi-autobiographical tale could feel so soulless. This is essentially just Oscar bait disguised as a soulful and artistic tale and there was no moment that felt poignant despite the fact that the film seemed like it was trying to aim to be poignant. 

Still image of the main character with his family. (

Then there’s the aspect that takes me from not liking this film to hating this film: how stuck up it is. I mentioned it before but this film believes it’s so artistic and that it’s so deep when it is absolutely not. I’m willing to dismiss it but I just can’t when it is so arrogant. The very fact that it earned the highest honor a screenplay could earn this year (best original screenplay) is an absolute travesty and it makes me so upset. The Worst Person in the World being labeled inferior to this movie triggers me on a whole other level. Matter of fact, go watch that instead of this garbage. That’s right, I’m now angry enough to the level where I’m calling this garbage. An annoyingly pretentious film like this deserves that kind of hate. 

So now that I’m so angry about this seemingly okay movie, I must implore you to please skip this overrated pretentious slob. It’s not as bad as some other movies but it is so soulless yet awarded that it makes me upset. Please watch The Worst Person in the World, which is also known as the real deserved winner of Best Original Screenplay.