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“Meanings” You May Not Have Considered

CRITICS TELL US: WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT...

 

 

 

 

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A gem of a film... Kenith Trodd has cleverly assembled the best of artistes to bring every fragile moment of this wistful, elegiac romance to memorable and moving life.  FULL REVIEW
— Phillip Bergson
WHAT’S ON (U.K.)

...A little jewel of a period piece. FULL REVIEW
— Michael Blowen
BOSTON GLOBE (U.S.)

All is subtle perception, fine acting, and delicate nuance. FULL REVIEW
— Richard Mayne
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (U.K.)

A Month in the Country is a small but richly observed work. FULL REVIEW
— Christine Arnold
KNIGHT-RIDDER (U.S.)

...The light that shines on the small Yorkshire village of Oxgodby is like the dancing sunlight in a painting by Corot: gently flecked, summery, brilliantly white. It’s a healing light, the kind of restorative sun that we turn to with longing after a long winter has nested in our bones. FULL REVIEW
— Deborah Jerome
THE (N.J.) RECORD (U.S.)

Pat O’Connor’s A Month in the Country is like a pastoral parable that has been left outside in the damp too long, causing its batteries to go flat. FULL REVIEW
— Nigel Andrews
FINANCIAL TIMES (U.K.)

Which is not to say this film about two shell-shocked World War One veterans is a bum steer.  It’s just a teensy bit like watching a Hovis commercial for an hour and a half. FULL REVIEW
— Sue Heal
TODAY (U.K.)

Although the material is insubstantial the performances of Firth and Branagh are immaculate.  A Month in the Country requires patience but is highly rewarding. FULL REVIEW
— Victoria Mather
DAILY TELEGRAPH (U.K.)

The cast is very British and strictly caviar. FULL REVIEW
— David Elliot
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE (U.S.)

Kenneth Branagh, in his film debut as the homosexual, is astonishingly sure-footed, while Colin Firth is equally sensitive as the married man. FULL REVIEW
— Derek Malcolm
GUARDIAN (U.K.)

Firth, last seen in Another Country, has dark, rude persistence as he gropes for life. Branagh has the casual upper-class charm of Nigel Havers plus a touch of Puck. FULL REVIEW
— Stanley Kauffman
NEW REPUBLIC (U.S.)

Firth and Branagh are talented young actors to watch in the future — especially Branagh who has great screen presence. FULL REVIEW
— VARIETY (U.S.)

...All the performances are accomplished, and that of Firth is brilliant. FULL REVIEW
— TIME OUT (U.K.)

The film is stylish and original... FULL REVIEW
— David Robinson
(London) TIMES (U.K.)

I admire this fastidiously crafted movie, though ultimately I find it a little too self-consciously English in its understatement and good taste — like a suit of rough tweed beautifully cut by a Savile Row tailor. FULL REVIEW
— Philip French
OBSERVER (U.K.)

A Month in the Country exposes lonely souls whose lives are measured not by abundance but by loss.  FULL REVIEW
— F. & M.A. Brussat
SPIRITUALITY AND FILM (U.S.)

A film of lasting quality, and a source of considerable pleasure. ...What the film conveys is that melancholy sense of lives that touch at a crucial moment and will never do so again; it does this with humour and dignity and without overstatement. FULL REVIEW
— Hilary Mantel
SPECTATOR (U.K.)

Pat O’Connor filme admirablement le non-dit, les sensations les plus fugitives, il saisit merveilleusement la qualité de certains instants privilégiés, soulignant le moindre élan de ses personnages sans jamais forcer le trait.   FULL REVIEW
— Pascal Mérigeau
STUDIO (FR.)

The result is that rarest of qualities — pure joy. FULL REVIEW
— Tom Hutchinson
MAIL ON SUNDAY (U.K.)

 

Quotes from Critics

ill titlePermeated with a sense of isolation and regret that ultimately gives way to the comforting embrace of forgiveness, this is an unusual and unyielding film, one with the hushed fervor of a silent prayer.  Like Birkin’s covered-up fresco and Moon’s long buried bones, it waits patiently for its audience, demanding that you discover it. FULL REVIEW
— Eleanor Ringel
ATLANTA JOURNAL AND CONSTITUTION (U.S.)

ill title Country is not for those wanting instant thrills, blatant sensation, everything spelled out.  The story is simple yet rich, delicate yet strong, and wholly satisfying.  Half the film’s wistful charm lies in its concern for decent people unable to say what they want, but speaking with their eyes.  FULL REVIEW
—(London) DAILY MAIL (U.K.)

ill titleMr. O’Connor is especially good at emphasizing the characters’ separateness from one another, as well as their unarticulated longing.  The sense of unfulfilled desire and incommunicable sorrow give A Month in the Country great pathos… FULL REVIEW
— Janet Maslin
NEW YORK TIMES (U.S.)

ill titleRarely has the impossibility of love been more wrenchingly presented than in the scenes of dashed hope between Firth and Richardson.  Indeed, the major performances in A Month in the Country are in the high tradition of English screen acting — understated in the best sense and beautifully detailed. FULL REVIEW
— Desmond Ryan
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (U.S.)

ill titleNothing is so tranquil as A Month in the Country, in which sorrows are laid to rest like souls in a churchyard.  Though it is spiritually uplifting, there’s the feeling of an elegy to this English soldier’s story, a conscientious tone poem set in pastoral Yorkshire after the War to End All Wars… It’s all rather Arthurian, with its chivalric hero on his spiritual quest, the atmosphere suffused, seeming to dance with once and future truths. FULL REVIEW
— Rita Kempley
WASHINGTON POST (U.S.)

ill titleThe paradisaical countryside, ravishingly but realistically rendered by Kenneth Macmillan’s all-weather photography, muffles the delicate strains of souls in agony in their private infernos. FULL REVIEW
— Alexander Walker
(London) EVENING STANDARD (U.K.)

ill title...O’Connor is wrestling to inquire about issues that are anathema to most directors. To say that these issues address the limits of personal suffering, the ongoingness of pain, the joys derived from rare flashes of connection with others, is to suggest O’Connor’s concerns, but also to reduce them.  Indeed, the wordless moments are more profound than any statements could possibly be.  O’Connor has found a way of translating what the camera sees into a form of wisdom.

...There are simplicities that are simple-minded, and there are those that are elegant.  A Month in the Country is elegant.  FULL REVIEW
— Deborah Jerome
THE (N.J.) RECORD (U.S.)

ill titleEngland used to be famous for emotional restraint.  But the feelings of two shattered survivors of the trenches, finding spiritual renewal in 1920s Yorkshire, are so understated as to be almost undetectable.  Yet Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh are very watchable, and Firth induces a mood of sweet suspense as he half responds to a hint of an advance from the pretty wife (Natasha Richardson) of the gloomy local vicar.
—Richard Barkley
SUNDAY EXPRESS (U.K.)

ill title Firth has the haunted look of a man who has seen and is still pursued by a ghost, while the more extroverted Branagh reveals ambiguous depths.  And, if you were to close your eyes, you would think that Natasha Richardson was her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, so similar are their voices and cadences.  But in contrast to the more volatile Vanessa, Natasha has a relaxed, caressing quality; and her blossoming is the charm of the film. FULL REVIEW
— Molly Haskell
VOGUE (U.S.)

ill title Colin Firth is dizzyingly good as the shell-shocked Birkin… Natasha Richardson is flawless as the vicar’s wife, stifling in her own form of prison, an English rose that her fastidious husband (expertly played by Patrick Malahide) can never adequately tender. FULL REVIEW
— Phillip Bergson
WHAT’S ON (U.K.)

ill title Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh in the leading roles are splendid.  Firth has a stutter and is the more immediate casualty but Branagh’s waters run deeper under their surface calm.  This talented young man has yet to come into his own on film. …He must soon get the robust screen role that his talent invites. FULL REVIEW
— Iain Johnstone
(London) SUNDAY TIMES (U.K.)

ill title At times the too-pretty scenery evokes Hovis ad territory, but there is real richness in Simon Gray’s eloquent screenplay (from J.L. Carr’s novel) which wastes not a word.  Branagh has less meat to chew on… but Firth’s performance is sublime. FULL REVIEW
— Rob Driscoll
WESTERN MAIL (U.K.)

ill title No one quite says what he means, emotions all are deeply restrained, the numerous complicated relationships are all unexpressed and unconsummated. But even in this emotional straitjacket, the film manages to be a deeply revealing and consistently absorbing experience, thanks mostly to an ensemble cast that does not seem to make a wrong move or wasted motion — particularly Firth as the tortured protagonist, Natasha Richardson as the spunky wife of the church’s repressed pastor, and Kenneth Branagh as another young veteran who becomes the hero’s soulmate in his therapeutic excursion into the past. FULL REVIEW
— William Arnold
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER (U.S.)

ill title As Birkin, Colin Firth has a face that’s been drained of color; each smile, each attempt to express himself, has the effort of a man trying to stumble his way back from an abyss. For Kenneth Branagh as Moon, the triumph is exactly the opposite: to convey the isolation of a friendly man. Natasha Richardson... is also wonderful in the smaller role of the vicar’s wife. She is able to bring authenticity to scenes that might easily have come across as trite. But then, that transformation of the ordinary into the sacred is the great achievement of the entire film. FULL REVIEW
— Deborah Jerome
THE (N.J.) RECORD (U.S.)

ill title …A slow, lyrical tale… Elegant and slightly stagey in the manner of Merchant-Ivory, its distinction is Gray’s haunting, allusive script, full of gentle puzzles and unfinished relationships.  Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh as the soldiers, Patrick Malahide and Natasha Richardson as the vicar and his wife, are all excellent.
— William Parente
THE SCOTSMAN (U.K.)

ill title Heaven knows the world needs more of what A Month in the Country expresses so exquisitely.  Call it reticence, tact, restraint, respect.  Call it reverence for the private space and special pain of another.  Whatever it is, it is not the usual stuff of dramatic narrative in any medium, and, admittedly, a whole year of non-action films such as A Month in the Country would be too much to endure.  But as a welcome respite from the hyper-kinetic hysteria in so many contemporary movies, A Month in the Country is a must-see.  FULL REVIEW
— Andrew Sarris
VILLAGE VOICE (U.S.)