How Jamie Dornan Gives His Best Performance in “Belfast”

Being a matinee idol certainly has its perks, but getting too comfortable with this image comes with its own set of disadvantages. It takes more than a pretty face to make it big in the entertainment industry, and secure your place in Hollywood. Luckily, one actor who has gotten way past his heartthrob status, and has gone on to play more challenging and out-of-the-box roles is Jamie Dornan. The actor began his career as a model in the early 2000’s. He posed for the biggest fashion brands, and was even proclaimed to be one of the biggest male models of his generation. This recognition opened the doors to more possibilities. It did not take long before Dornan ventured into acting. One of his first memorable acting stints was when he joined the cast of the hit television series, Once Upon a Time. He is most known for his portrayal of Christian Grey, a billionaire with a flair for the sensual, from the famed Fifty Shades film franchise.

Instead of falling into the trap and becoming stereotyped for the role, Dornan was able to land other interesting roles that give him an opportunity to showcase his serious acting chops. His new film, Belfast, might just be his golden ticket to finally bagging major award nominations. The screening of the film was off to a wildly successful start, as it picked up the top People’s Choice honor in the 2021 Toronto Film Festival last September. The coming-of-age comedy drama is a semi-autobiographical film directed by acclaimed filmmaker, Kenneth Branagh (Thor), who is able to recount his childhood experiences of growing up in a working-class family. The film is set in the late 1960’s, and revolves around the life of a boy named Buddy, portrayed by Jude Hill (Mandrake). The storyline navigates through Buddy’s childhood during a tumultuous time in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The film is sentimental, and watching the story unfold feels like revisiting a childhood memory.

What is Belfast About?

Dornan stars as Buddy’s doting father, and acts alongside a stellar ensemble, which include Caitríona Balfe (Outlander), Dame Judi Dench (Philomena), Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones), Colin Morgan (Merlin), and Lara McDonnell (Artemis Fowl). The film is even made more realistic, as majority of the cast members, including Dornan, are also of Irish descent. The intricacies of the film is evident even in its characters. Dornan, for instance, had to tweak his Irish accent to make it more representational to a working-class Belfast accent. This attention to detail only goes to show how much heart and soul Branagh pours into the entire filmmaking process. The accolades are indeed well-deserved. Dornan could not help but also feel sentimental about the attention the film is getting. He shares a photo in his Instagram page, as he goes back to his roots and looks back at how far he has gone in this career. Dornan has found his bearings, and is able to unleash his acting prowess in the film. His portrayal of a father who does everything in his power to make ends meet for his family is pure and heartfelt.

Family dramas have a way of tugging on its audience’s heartstrings, and unraveling emotions buried deep inside. Belfast is able to do this, and even more. It contains all the elements of a good film, from the well-written screenplay, to the beautiful cinematography, and poignant portrayals. The conflicts in the film are religious in nature, and well beyond the characters’ control. This is heartbreaking in the sense that Buddy and his family are left with no choice, but to just deal with the consequences of peoples’ actions. Dornan’s character is seen left to pick up the emotional and financial shrapnel brought by social instability. As a patriarch of a family, the best he can do is to put up a brave front. It’s not an easy role to play, and Dornan has played his cards right this time around. The film covers an ongoing theme that still stands true up to this day. Social inequality is a tough subject to cover, and will remain to be so for a long time. Films that are based on true events form an integral part of cinema. It serves as a good reminder of history, and is also a food for thought. As a Spanish philosopher once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The hopes are high for Belfast, and we can’t wait for the film and for the cast to dominate the upcoming awards season.

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