May 17, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Feast of July

Current Status
In Season
Embeth Davidtz, Ben Chaplin
Christopher Menaul
We gave it a B

You can’t imagine two more dissimilar romances. Sure, there are coincidences: Both involve British characters in picturesque locales (19th-century England and 1937 Italy, respectively), both had small art-house releases, and both are from novels by H.E. Bates. But Feast of July is the tale of beautiful young Bella (Embeth Davidtz), who first loves the wrong man, then the right one (The Truth About Cats & Dogs‘ Ben Chaplin) — with disastrous results both times. Doom hangs over the story like a weight, creating a tone that’s not exactly raucous fun. In A Month by the Lake, the sun never stops shining, as a vacationing spinster (Vanessa Redgrave) finally gets her man, aided by a saucy American au pair (Cats & Dogs‘ Uma Thurman). In the first film, nothing goes right; in the second, nothing goes amiss. Seen on video, it’s one step forward, two steps back.
July: B
Month: B-

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