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A visual, poetic depiction of Belfast and its citizens, told with love and passion of someone, who has left the city many years ago but is still fascinated by it. Themes brought up in the film range from the landscapes surrounding the city, its changing architecture and social structure to the political and personal repercussions of the Northern Irish conflict.
Meandering and doesn't wholly work, but if it hooks you it is interesting
This is a particularly niche film, and I suspect that the majority audience will not go for it. This is not to suggest that I am in the 1% and therefore incredibly cultured and smart – but rather that I was born in Belfast, and also grew up with the odd tones of Mark Cousins as part of my cinematic education. As such I was quite taken by the film for what it was trying to do, even if I did not like all aspects of it. The film is affectionate and reflective on the city; it does not shy away from the impact of the Troubles but yet has plenty of time to celebrate the strength of the people that persist through them.
I am not totally sure that the female version of the city works as a device. She is good at times, but seems to be given almost too much time when the people and city would maybe have been a better focal point. This is well seen in moments where the film gets close to real people, with their accents and colorful phrasing – by contrast the overly poetic language of Belfast seems too deliberate and forced. Mostly though it works, although I wanted to hear Cousins directly more than I wanted to hear these very scripted and performed lines.
Visually the film is very well constructed; the memorable shots of the painted pub, alongside more creative and abstract shots all make for an interesting piece. This fits with the content of the film; to those who live in Northern Ireland the final 10 minutes will particularly strike home – a story of a wee woman who forgot her shopping and the bus turned back for her, this is more reflective of the people of a very small rural country than the headlines of bombs and bullets. It is a very nice finale (with Van Morrison adding more value) and it sums up the best aspects of the film very well.
An acquired interest piece, but the meandering tone and thoughtful air does the subject justice even if some of it works better than other parts.
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