Great Britain, 1984, 99 minutes

2:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. This film might seem initially daunting: a deliberately low-key and non-melodramatic account of four days in the lives of two neighbors in Northern Ireland, whose wives are about to give birth. Yet, as soon as you adjust to the movie's special dramaturgy, the slightly impenetrable brogue and the improvisatory techniques of director Mike Leigh--who "devised" "Four Days in July" with his cast--it becomes engrossing and deeply moving. We learn about a man's crippling injury not by seeing it, with blood, explosions and special effects, but because we hear him discussing it years later, quietly, in his sunny kitchen. "Four Days in July" brings home the horrors and the absurdities of war and human conflict with more impact because it's done with such simplicity, realism and subtlety; such calm, steadily accumulating conviction.

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