I Am Belfast (15)

I Am Belfast (15)

Directed by Mark Cousins
Picturehouse, Liverpool
15th April – 19th April 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Highly rated film critic Mark Cousins has assembled a contemplative paean to his hometown of Belfast.

It is surreal, visually appealing (cinematographer Christopher Doyle deserves praise for his vivid images of the countryside outside the urban sprawl of the city), poetic as well as eccentric, but brutally honest about the history of Belfast, notably ‘The Troubles’, sometimes described as a ‘guerrilla war’ between Nationalists and Republicans over a thirty-year period from 1968-1998.

Belfast is represented as a fictional wise elderly woman (Helena Bereen), aged 10,000 years, who regularly ponders upon defining periods in its history, both significant and mundane.

She states that her name Belfast means where ‘salt meets sweet’, which aptly conveys the divisive nature of the place.

Cousins talks to her, as if she was a real person, which adds to the colourful composition of the film.

I Am Belfast ends on a very odd note – not surprising coming from such a talent as Cousins – when he devotes five minutes or so to the tale of a woman who left her shopping at a bus stop, with Belfast standing next to it as the bus sped away.

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