7.1/10
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A Month in the Country (1987)

Five centuries ago, a mural was created in a country church in the north of England, and then hidden under layers of white paint. Looking at it again will be a distraction, the Reverend Mr.... See full summary »

Director:

Pat O'Connor

Writers:

J.L. Carr (novel), Simon Gray
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Colin Firth ... Birkin
John Atkinsons John Atkinsons ... Old Man on Train
Jim Carter ... Ellerbeck
Patrick Malahide ... Reverend Keach
Kenneth Branagh ... James Moon
Richard Vernon ... Colonel Hebron
Tim Barker Tim Barker ... Mossop
Vicki Arundale Vicki Arundale ... Kathy
Martin O'Neil Martin O'Neil ... Edgar
Natasha Richardson ... Alice Keach
Tony Haygarth ... Douthwaite
Eileen O'Brien Eileen O'Brien ... Mrs. Ellerbeck
Elizabeth Anson Elizabeth Anson ... Lucy Sykes
Barbara Marten Barbara Marten ... Mrs. Sykes
Ken Kitson ... Mr. Sykes (as Kenneth Kitson)
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Storyline

Five centuries ago, a mural was created in a country church in the north of England, and then hidden under layers of white paint. Looking at it again will be a distraction, the Reverend Mr. Keach tells World War I veteran Tom Birken, who will spend a month in the country restoring the mural. Another veteran, James Moon, is looking for the grave of an ancestor of the patroness of the church who fought in the Crusades. The rector's wife, Alice, comes to see the mural and later visits Birken's bell tower abode, bringing a basket of apples. Will she open the book in which he has pressed the yellow rose she gave him earlier? Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 December 1987 (Ireland) See more »

Also Known As:

En månad på landet See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$443,524
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmnig took place during a summer that was extraordinarily wet even by British standards, and the numerous outdoor scenes in the beautiful summer weather had to be shot during short breaks in the clouds. See more »

Goofs

After Birkin alights from the train at Oxgodby in heavy rain and as the train departs you can make out the pine trees in the background in bright sunlight. See more »

Quotes

Alice Keach: I just came to find out if you're all right n the bell loft or if there's anything you needed. It seems so inhospitable, you up there on the floorboards and we in our beds.
See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Breakthrough Stars of 1990 (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Life at Best Is Very Brief
Words by Charles Harrison Mason
Music by William J. Kirkpatrick
(uncredited)
Sung by choir in Methodist Chapel
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User Reviews

 
You have to be English to appreciate this
17 August 2005 | by rjbradSee all my reviews

I am posting this submission partly in reaction to the last one currently on the site, which gave the movie the thumbs down. Then its author revealed that he had spent American currency hiring the video and I thought: aha, so that's why.

This film partly celebrates a piece of rural, Northern England and it really does help if you live there, which I do. (I could even take you to the railway station where the early scenes were shot, featuring incidentally the most unconvincing screen rain I have ever seen! it also stars in the first Harry Potter movie) The delicious soundtrack could only have been composed by someone steeped in Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams. Only a man who knows if not at first hand then at least by intimate report the rivalry between "church" and "chapel" - which still persists in these parts - could have written that scene in the organ shop.

It's not an action movie but rather one that moves with the languid pace of a summer that feels as if it should be Edwardian, but that era is a dream now. There are dark ripples below the sunny surface. Birken's nervous tic, the nightmares of the trenches, the casual debauchery of Moon, are the aftertaste of WW1's horror. What of Christian faith after such slaughter? There is the simple Phillistine chapel culture, its weary preacher still ranting at his congregation about their sins, unaware that the war has made private transgression seem utterly trivial. There is the cold liturgical worship offered by the pious, buttoned up, tight-fisted Rev Keach. Birken finds no meaning in either, and immerses himself in the work of restoring a masterpiece from an age when faith still gripped the psyche, hoping perhaps to draw something of its historic power into himself. Moon - Branagh's character - is shallow by comparison, idle, serene, detached.

The scenes with Birken and Alice Keach are little gems of implication and understatement, she - it seems knowingly - playing Eve, complete with temptress's apple, to Birken's Adam. The potential for an affair is manifest, but we sense nothing will come of it, and in the last scene of the movie Birken is seen throwing away an apple core.

Branagh would go on to greater things; this is Colin Firth's film and while his celebrity rating has soared since he made it, I doubt he will ever turn in a performance that surpasses it in subtlety and richness.

But to end as I began: this is not a movie that I would expect to travel well. You really need to be English appreciate it - heck, I've seen American movies that washed right over me because I don't understand the rules of baseball!


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