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4.4 out of 5 stars
57
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 23 October 2010
This is a film of seemingly modest ambitions (judging from reports of the budget available) which has clearly transcended them, to become a substantial work of art of really quite surpassing quality. The film deserves to be available again in DVD format, and to be kept in print. Despite the apparent slimness of its story, it is so richly imagined and actualized that it deserves to be watched repeatedly and is therefore a film to own, not to borrow.

In a heartbreaking style, it captures the spirit of a beautiful book (J L Carr's one indisputable literary success, in my view). It delicately depicts the restoration of hope and the enduring power of art. Love, marital sterility, friendship, meanness of spirit, pain, treachery, courage, fortitude, innocence, artistic sensibility, religious and class distinction: all and more are portrayed in the course of a real but tiny drama. His painstaking and loving restoration of a long-lost religious wall painting in the depths of the northern English countryside goes in parallel with some measure of restoration of the spirit of a man who has been damaged by the Great War.

The actors achieve something remarkable, expressing depth of character and real feeling despite the accurately represented debilitating reticence of English people trying to reach out to each other. War and the lingering effects it has on people are clear themes; the contrast between the real suffering of Birkin and the self-regard and self-pity of the Rev. J. G. Keach are intensely moving, yet delicately suggested.

The photography is ravishingly gorgeous. The use of music - notably Schubert, Mendelssohn and Vaughan Williams - is achingly apt. Indeed, the commentary that is implicit in the choice of music adds something more to the film that was not and could not be in the novel. There is also an intense 'thingness' about this film: objects are used in the most perfect way, and acquire life and meaning. The Sarah Van Fleet Rose, the Ribson Pippin Apple - these give a sense of particularity and veracity to the story. The hints at a remote historical connection between the north of England and the Levant are also drawn out in material as well as verbal terms. The echo that Moon provides to T E Lawrence is also subtly but effectively sounded, in terms of story and characterization.

The image of the aged Birkin at the end, with his copy of Banister-Fletcher in his hand, going into the church is beautiful if painful to see. Time has passed and the woman who might have given so much happiness to him is obviously a distant memory.
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on 7 December 2016
A Month in the Country (DVD + Blu-ray)
The film itself is lovely, and has been reviewed by numerous others as well as on the various movie websites. I won't add my own plot summary or review and concentrate solely on the technical aspects of the BFI DVD +Blu-ray edition I purchased (see product link above).

You get both the DVD and Blu-ray disc in one case. Depending on how you watch your movies, you may be buying and paying for an extra disc that's no good to you. The film is nicely restored, the picture is clear and the colours are very vibrant. The sound is good, but due to the rather strong (Yorkshire?) accent of many of the characters, some viewers may need the (optional) subtitles to help them understand every word of the dialogue. This is not a complaint, the film is set in Yorkshire and the accents are appropriate and add to the charme of the film.

One shortcoming of the DVD is the absence of a scene/chapter selection in the menu. If you want to find a particular scene you have to navigate blindly by skipping forward or backward until you find it.

A nice feature are the recent interviews included in the extas, about 20 mins with director Pat O'Connor and 40 mins with lead actor Colin Firth, both looking back at the film some thirty years after its release.

There is also a feature length commentary with film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman, which plays without the audio track of the film. A pity, because at times it would be nice to hear the dialogue of scenes that are being discussed. Some of the commentary is interesting, but personally I would have prefered a commentary by the director and/or lead actors. The choice of an American lady who struggles with the word "Buckinghamshire" (one of the filming locations) as main commentator seems odd. Ms Kirgo's suggestion to just go with "B-shire" for convenience is cringeworthy. From that point on, she had lost all credibility as a competent expert as far as I am concerned. And much as I enjoy Colin Firth's performance here and respect him as an actor in general, her prattling on about how young and beautiful he is here, was getting on my nerves. I cannot think why the BFI choose this particular lady as commentator.

Having said all that, I enjoyed the film very much and will likely watch the DVD again in the future, but definitely not with the comments track selected.
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on 11 April 2017
A very good interpretation of the book, and made better by an outstanding cast (of course). Some of the minor subtleties have eluded the screenwriting but on balance it still has the overall feel of the original. Malahide excels as the bottled-up neurotic vicar, whilst Branagh is genuinely convincing as the war-wrecked soul. Always read the novel first I would say - as genuinely the written word is superior to the celluloid version. I love the book, as many do. This film almost captures the magic.
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on 23 March 2017
Very much enjoyed this film, showing Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth quite early in their careers - the talent really comes through. The whole story is beautifully paced, with some great support performances all round. Kept trying to identify the church (or is it several churches including at least one in Sussex as well as Yorkshire)? The most poignant parts of the film for me are the healing process that Firth's character goes through via the restoration of the painting and through the positivity of the regular Yorkshire folk around him; but also the sense of wasted lives continuing after the war in the character of the vicar's wife, trapped in a loveless marriage.
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on 21 September 2016
I love this film. Read the book years and years ago and the film on video but needed to change to dvd /bluray as video players now extinct. Life after WW1 for two very different men, both broken and tortured souls who are survivors and surving despite all. Love it, love it, love it.
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on 11 April 2017
Great acting
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on 29 November 2014
A forgotten classic. Three great performances from Firth, Branagh and, most especially, the late Nathasha Richardson. She was a much underrated actor. Watch her performance in "Suddenly Last Summer" if you are in any doubt.
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on 7 February 2015
Channel 4 Channel 4! What will it take for you to re-issue this exquisite and beautiful film? Why am I reduced to watching sections, piece by piece, on youtube, rediscovering the moving depths and undercurrents of this heartbreaking story when it deserves to be seen at it's best? Although I find peculiar comfort in comparing this fragmented viewing experience to the jobs of Birkin and Moon in the film itself, as they slowly uncover a medieval wall painting and dig for bones outside the churchyard, I'm left astonished at how such an important and enchanting film is out of circulation. I will continue to return to the book, but the film makers knew what they were doing when they melded this glorious adaptation.
And we've just had the centenary of WW1 for goodness sake! What a fitting tribute it would have been to re-issue the DVD. You've missed a trick channel 4. But please get round to it soon. I have visions of our ancestors, digging for evidence of this film in Oxgodby, 600 years from now.....
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on 21 May 2001
One of the best films by either Firth or Brannagh. Beautifully filmed and one which captures the primitive attitudes of a rural community in the 1920's. One's heart goes out immediately to Birken (Firth)as the WW1 soldier struggling to come to terms with life after war and Brannagh's excellent portrayal of a man determined to 'keep on smiling' through his own tortuous journey back to normality. A truly lovely film which I will easily watch again and again - the scene in which both Firth and Brannagh are having lunch on a sunny day in the churchyard makes one feel one is there with them also laying on one's back, face up to the sky chewing a blade of grass - bliss!
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on 14 May 2004
I first saw this on TV in about 1990, before i had heard of either Colin Firth or Ken Branagh. I was astonished at the quality performances both gave, but for me, particularly Firth's. I was not at all surprised that both became very successful and famous later, though it took Firth longer to rise to the limelight than Branagh, something which initially irked me (but only a little!).
But back to the film! Wonderful, evocative, very moving, and with an excellent soundtrack. It portrays the hardships of life in 1920, not just the fallout from terrible war, but also the then-incurable illness (TB). Thanks to the reviewer who identified the location; i plan to visit the church / valley for a walk / picnic some time this summer. And - trivia - the actor who played Old Birkin (David Garth) died the year after this movie was made (1988). It was his final appearance, and it made me weep.
And the unrequited love between Firth and Richardson beats hands down so many cheesier scenes of fully-requited "love" in more "popular" movies. And therefore meant so much more ...
What a film.
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