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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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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 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 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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on 20 December 2000
This is a muted but magnificent piece of cinema. A dramatic study of how people pick up their lives after great turmoil and suffering. Mostly a movie about healing. Colin Firth performs with great tenderness, frustration, passion and melancholy. The emotional tension between him and Natasha Richardson is heavily charged and accentuated by a brilliant performance by Patrick Malahide who plays Natasha Richardson's emotionally repressed husband. A classic portrayal of English "hanging on in quiet desperation". Kenneth Branagh plays a quirky, upbeat archeaologist hiding great pain without the idiosynchrasies of his later movies. All in all a magical film set in the green of the Yorkshire dales showing also the breakdown of the English Class structure caused by WWI. My personal favourite. Pity its not on DVD. Similar feeling from "The Remains of the day" but more upbeat, or "The Yakuza" starring Robert Mitchum. Buy it now!
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on 5 April 2005
There's no need to rush this movie, it's here to be savoured. If Colin Firth & Kenneth Branagh weren't enough of a temptation (both looking disgracefully young), the colour and pace of this film are delightful. Layers of paint are dabbed away showing a beautiful medieval painting, while layers of emotion are oh-so-subtly revealed too. I loved the understated approach to portraying the trauma of attempting to ease back into a 'normal' life after experiencing the 'hell on earth ' of trench warfare. I now want a month in the country! Enjoy this one with a bowl of fresh braeburn apples...
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on 27 August 2004
I first saw this film on television some years ago and was enchanted by the world conjured up and the subtle way in which the two leads came to be healed. The people, although only fictional, were so real and genuine I never forgot the film and was equally enchanted when I was able to purchase a copy from Amazon.
The actors and actresses were impeccably suited to their part and I found quite touching the fact that the older version of Birkin actually died shortly after the film was made.
I recently also bought the book, a very slim volume which was beautifully written and essentially the same as the film. I also found myself wondering at the incredible talen and expertise involved in translating such a finely written book on to the big screen. For me, an unforgettable screen experience, in the same category as Enchanted April, also about people being healed spiritually after the Great War. Wonderful!
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on 16 December 2004
I saw this film at the Duke's Playhouse in Lancaster years ago in 1988. I loved it the first time and my affection for the film has never waned. It is a masterpiece. A lot of my friends look puzzled when I mention "A Month in the Country" so it is very reassuring to see reviews in which people feel the same way about the film as I do. There are many moving aspects of the film. I love the scene at the end when the old Birkin looks back perhaps ...
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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 15 March 2006
A wonderful evocation of how sensitive and intelligent souls cope with impossible demands - the trauma of the Great War, bleak marriage and life, and love which haunts or plays with each of them in different ways. It is, however a great pity that the scene in which Birkin meets ex-sergeant Milburn, which in the book adds a further dimension to our sympathy for Moon, is turned into a particularly nasty incident. I can't understand why the director did this - maybe to add a late 20th century comment on his perception of the view of homosexuality in the early 20's?
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on 12 September 2003
I have to say, this is one of my favourite film's of all time!
After visiting the Church used in the production, I felt the makers had really got it right!! If anyone is interested, it is in Radnage in Buckinghamshire.
A wonderful insight into the horror's brought on by war...
Colin Firth and Ken Branagh stand the test of time! They are Brilliant! When will it be available on DVD...?
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