Monday, 20 June 2016


“Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own.” - H. Jackson Brown, Jr

For Movie Monday, a beautiful period movie that seemed to have to ticked all the boxes in terms of writing, acting, direction, music, cinematography and sets/costumes. It is Christopher Menaul’s 1995 movie, “Feast of July”, starring Embeth Davidtz, Tom Bell, Gemma Jones, Ben Chaplin, James Purefoy and Greg Wise. The film is based on a novel by H.E. Bates and the screenplay was written by Christopher Neame. The excellent music score was by Zbigniew Preisner, with exceptional cinematography by Peter Sova.

Right away, let me warn you that the pace is slow and there are no action scenes, no chases nor exciting nail-biting cliff-hangers. The film progresses slowly, but relentlessly, as the action builds up to quite a terrifying and tragic climax. The actors are all extremely good in bringing out the deeper parts of their characters and the direction is subtle and impeccable. The film is set in rural Victorian England and the sets, costumes and overall atmosphere and feel is authentic and believable.

Bella (Davidtz) is a poor girl who has been seduced by a handsome, rakish man (Wise) who leads her to believe he loves her and will marry her. After a month or two, he vanishes and she is left alone and pregnant. She decides to walk 30 miles to the town where he said was his home. In terrible winter weather and rough terrain, she miscarries along the way and the baby is stillborn in a lonely mountain hut. Bella eventually makes it to the town where he said he lives, but no one knows him there. In the town she finds a kind man (Bell) who takes her into his family’s home. The man and his wife (Jones) have three handsome, unmarried sons who are living at home with them. When the poor girl has had a few days of rest and recovery, it turns out that Bella is quite pretty and charming. Slowly, tensions begin to mount as one by one, each of the three sons make it known to her that they want to court her…

Davidtz is excellent as the deceived Bella and she manages to bring out many folds of the character with restraint and with an utterly convincing manner. While all other performances are fantastic, Gemma Jones as the mother of the three sons stands out, while Ben Chaplin playing the youngest son, Con, is fantastic. This was dark and tragic story, but it is set in a wonderful place (even though there are visible signs of early industrialisation), which somehow makes the story even more poignant.

We thoroughly enjoyed the movie and recommend it to all who enjoy a good, melancholy story, period settings, excellent acting and high-end production values. If you primarily like action thrillers this is not for you, I don’t think.

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