Director: Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh

2021, UK, 97, PG-13

Cast: Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Jude Hill.


Fans of this versatile U.K. actor/director can list his outstanding array of films, from Murder on the Orient Express to Hamlet to TV’s Wallander. But few were aware that Kenneth Branagh grew up in working class (loyalist) Belfast, leaving with his family at age 9 to escape the violent political unrest. Branagh wrote this intimately personal story during the early days of the pandemic, and it looks back at childhood with affection, humor, and stark realism. To Buddy, who is played by newcomer Jude Hill, his fair-minded Pa (Jamie Dornan), is an absent figure often working in the U.K. It is his ethereally beautiful mother (Outlander’s Caitríona Balfe) and down-to-earth grandparents (Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds) who do their best to keep an imaginative boy away from the attractions – and dangers – of the city’s mean streets. Winner, Best Film and People’s Choice Award, Toronto International Film Festival. (And more awards to come!)

“The most pleasing film I’ve seen this year. Seldom has a filmmaker given life to cherished memories with more tenderness or vivacity.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal.