Commissioned by producer Kenith Trodd and shown by the BBC in 1985, this is deviser/director Leigh's Northern Ireland film. This is alien territory for Leigh, who had some difficulty getting used to the grubby terrain of working-class Belfast and hanging a storyline on characters taken from both sides of the sectarian divide. Another departure for the now internationally established director is that the film has none of those people whom Leigh just can't portray properly: the English middle or upper classes. The result is a low-key but intriguing film which depicts the relations and friends of two families, Catholic and Protestant, linked by the arrival of babies in the month of the Orange marches. There are no shoot-outs or killings, even if the impact of the Troubles is exemplified by the crippled Eugene (McAleer, superb and understated) and ex-internees Brendan and Dixie, who swap yarns about using the prison lavatory system to distil poteen. Although strongly cast, the film has its longueurs (plus a Catholic bias), but it's sometimes very funny and tinged with sadness, even tragedy, throughout. A miserable man in hospital whose wife is expecting their first child asks: 'Three hours she's been in there. What does she think she's playing at?'
Four Days in July
Cast and crew