Belfast’s “Everlasting Love” performance is one we’ll never forget.
Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is the kind of film that has something for everybody. As it follows Jude Hill’s Buddy through his childhood during The Troubles, we get a glimpse of his doe-eyed view of the world in a familiar and comfortable way.
One thing is abundantly clear even amidst all of his uncertainties, Buddy loves Belfast and Buddy loves his family. And through his eyes, it’s easy to love them too. It’s especially easy to love them when Pa (Jamie Dornan) serenades Ma (Caitriona Balfe) in front of everyone.
Belfast’s “Everlasting Love” performance isn’t merely a means of showing off Dornan’s singing chops (though we are grateful for it, no less). Still, it’s the showcase of something bigger—something even more profound, whether that was the intent or not. It’s a celebration of life in one way and an exhibition of adoration in another. There’s a story here that’s beyond what we could understand, which is a testament to the brilliant performances Dornan and Balfe bring to the center.
The playful energy in their relationship, the undeniable adoration they feel for one another, and their conversations through eye contact alone speak volumes. There’s a fantastic pull between them, one I’ve talked about while reviewing the film:
It’s “An acute representation of “for a moment, the world disappeared.” For a moment, it was just the two of them, everything they’ve been through, their love story, their loyalty to each other, and the stunning chemistry that made for the kind of moment that’s more intimate than anything else they could have done. Balfe and Dornan encompassed the distinctive facets of Ma and Pa’s romance through such a memorable dance there was no need for any other declarations as their expressions told an entire story. “
Belfast’s “Everlasting Love” performance is the kind of scene that requires a breakdown for how deeply it makes us feel. It’s endearing, it’s butterfly-inducing, and it’s essentially an authentic display of a formidable type of love. Balfe and Dornan gorgeously show us that Ma and Pa married each other for a reason. They’re drawn to one another. As long as they’re together, they’re home. We see them find joy together earlier on in the film as they dance in the streets, and it’s a beautiful showcase of the established language between them—the conversations they can have with one another that no one else is a part of me, but we also see the unparalleled joy in it through their transcendent chemistry.
The way they pull each other close and the synchronicity in their body language that’s completely unplanned, but they could decipher the other’s next move because of the connection that’s constantly blazing within them. There’s a deep, achingly palpable longing here that we see solely through the way the two gaze at one another—the way they understand what’s happening better than we, as the audience, ever could, and it’s gorgeously telling of how intimacy is reached without even a shred of physical contact.
The physical contact happens the moment he comes down from the stage, but it’s all to seal the promises of the lyrics shut. It’s to show that every word he sings is a promise. It packs their adoration for one another as empathically as the kiss does before they even collide physically.
No, their marriage isn’t perfect, but then again, no one’s is. This performance instead showcases that Ma and Pa could find those beautifully picturesque moments in the midst of hard times because the love that runs through them is, in a word, everlasting.