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Four Days in July
     

Four Days in July

Director: Mike Leigh, Brid Brennan, Desmond McAleer, Charles Lawson

Cast: Mike Leigh, Brid Brennan, Desmond McAleer, Charles Lawson

 
The setting of Mike Leigh's Four Days in July is Belfast in the mid-'80s, just before the annual July 12th march of The Orangemen to celebrate the 17th century victory of the Protestant William of Orange over the Catholic King John II. Two couples prepare to have their first child. Collette (Brid Brennan) and Eugene (Desmond McAleer) are Catholic, while

Overview

The setting of Mike Leigh's Four Days in July is Belfast in the mid-'80s, just before the annual July 12th march of The Orangemen to celebrate the 17th century victory of the Protestant William of Orange over the Catholic King John II. Two couples prepare to have their first child. Collette (Brid Brennan) and Eugene (Desmond McAleer) are Catholic, while Lorraine (Paula Hamilton) and Billy (Charles Lawson) are Protestant. Eugene is injured and awaiting a disability check, so he has time to dote on his pregnant wife. Billy is in the military, and when he's not manning checkpoints, he hangs out with his fellow soldiers, Big Billy (Brian Hogg) and Little Billy (Adrian Gordon). On the 11th, as the celebrations and bonfires are being prepared, Brendan (Shane Connaughton, who later co-wrote the script for My Left Foot) comes by to fix Collette and Eugene's toilet. Then an old friend of Brendan's, Dixie (Stephen Rea), comes by to clean the building's windows. The four of them sit around for a while and chat. The upcoming marches are a sore spot that is briefly alluded to, and Eugene reveals that his injuries were suffered at the hands of the British military. Lorraine goes with Billy to a bonfire, where there's drinking, singing, and high spirits. The next morning, both women go into labor and are brought to the same hospital. In the waiting room, Eugene strikes up a conversation with Billy. Four Days in July was the last film Leigh made for the BBC and one of the first films scored by composer Rachel Portman.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Mike Leigh's underseen Four Days in July is a wonderfully engaging and bitterly funny take on "the troubles" of Northern Ireland. Leigh eschews proselytizing in favor of the type of richly drawn character study that has become his hallmark as a filmmaker. Still, his sympathies are pretty clear. Collette (Brid Brennan) and Eugene (Desmond McAleer), the Catholic couple in the film, are, for all their flaws, two of the most likeable characters Leigh has ever conceived. Lorraine (Paula Hamilton), the pregnant Protestant woman, seems sweet enough, but she doesn't get enough screen time, or really have enough to say to engage the audience. Her husband Billy (Charles Lawson) is as complex and interesting as any character in Leigh's oeuvre, and Lawson gives a strong performance, but he's a gruff, silent type, who has fully bought into traditional macho ideals. Eugene is tough and he's been through a lot, but he still manages to be a jovial fellow. It's telling that when Eugene and Billy (and later Collette and Lorraine) meet, the Catholic is far more outgoing and friendly. There's a wonderful scene in the second half of the film in which Eugene and Collette sit in their kitchen having a drink with local handymen Brendan (Shane Connaughton) and Dixie (Stephen Rea), and have a long, drawn out conversation, eventually touching on the events going on in the street outside. Everything about this scene is pitch perfect, from Dixie's overconfidence in his intellect to Eugene's combination of embarrassment and pride as he talks about his war wounds. This is the kind of milieu that Leigh captures as well as any filmmaker in history. The Irish accents may be heavy slogging for some viewers, but it's worth hearing what these characters have to say.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/28/2004
UPC:
0759259140608
Original Release:
1984
Rating:
NR
Source:
Water Bearer Films
Time:
1:39:00
Sales rank:
75,106

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start Film [9:39]
2. Toast and Tea [9:54]
3. Neighbors, Friends and Family [12:52]
4. Daily Routines [24:57]
5. Local Patrols [3:10]
6. Staying Home [13:02]
7. It's Time! [9:26]
8. Two Women, One Hospital [14:54]
9. End Credits [1:55]

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