Four Days in July
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.