Review: Belfast is a visually and emotionally sumptuous experience

The awards season big hitters are starting to land in New Zealand cinemas and among them is Sir Kenneth's Branagh's most personal film to date, Belfast.

It's 1969, and nine-year-old Buddy lives with his ma and pa, older brother Will, and his granny and his pop on a Belfast street where everyone looks after everyone else.

Life is simple. Of course it won't remain that simple, but Belfast is not a political film.

The politics of the Northern Ireland conflict of course underpin it. But this is story of the many kinds of love and loss, and told through the eyes of a nine-year-old - the eyes of Oscar-winning filmmaker Sir Kenneth.

Dame Judi inhabits the small but perfectly formed role of granny alongside the marvellous Belfast-born Ciaran Hinds and their relationship is an absolute delight.

Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe as ma and pa bring the romance and the conflict of a marriage under many strains with authenticity and heart.

And this young newcomer Jude Hill in his first feature role and appearing in what feels like almost every frame, well he's just outstanding.

Belfast is a visually and emotionally sumptuous experience, the script is lean, the dialogue rich, the performances on point, the film awards-worthy.

Five stars