In the summer of 1920, two traumatised victims of World War I meet in a Yorkshire village: Birkin (Firth), who stutters, has come to restore a mural in the local church, and Moon (Branagh), still tormented by nightmares, has come to excavate the land around it. Birkin falls for the beautiful wife (Richardson) of the uncharitable vicar (Malahide), and Moon falls for Birkin. Neither gets what he wants, but together they succeed in solving a minor mystery. O'Connor directs Simon Gray's script with great sensitivity. It's all taken at a gentle pace, but dullness is averted by a sly humour. The pretty-prettiness of Hovis commercials is not always avoided, and recurrent images of the apocalyptic painting, intended to give the rather pat plot a mystical resonance, don't; but all the performances are accomplished, and that of Firth is brilliant.
Cast and crew