Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
In the opening scenes of "Feast of July," a young woman makes her way across one of those landscapes that seem to exist for the purpose of illustrating Victorian novels. The sky is dark and lowering, the wind bites sharply across the heath, and she staggers into shelter just in time to give birth to a stillborn child, and bury it. Then she somehow makes her way into a grim little village, where a local man takes pity on her and invites her home.
The man is Ben Wainwright (Tom Bell), and his family consists of his wife (Gemma Jones) and his three sons: Jedd (James Purefoy), an Army man; Matty (Kenneth Anderson), a shoemaker, and Con (Ben Chaplin), the youngest, who seems a little slow and socially maladroit. Mrs. Wainwright cares for the homeless woman, named Bella (Embeth Davidtz), and learns or guesses much of her story.
It is clear to us that the introduction of this attractive young woman into the household is going to cause problems, but it is not clear to Ben, who tells her she can stay if she will help with the family's work. Soon all three sons are smitten with her, but she takes pity on young Con, who seems helpless and identifies more with his pet pigeons than with other people.
Meanwhile, Bella's past is revealed. She was seduced and abandoned by a slick-talking cad named Arch Wilson (Greg Wise), who told her he lived in this village. That was a lie, along with almost everything else he told her, and when one day she sees him in a street and follows him, she discovers that he has also deceived another young woman. Meanwhile, Con proposes marriage, and to the astonishment of the familyBella accepts.