Synopsis: A man and a woman who own neighboring farms in Ireland feud and maybe fall in love.
Faith and begorrah, a movie that celebrates all that is Irish and delves into all manner of hackneyed Irish-isms. Ireland, the land of James Joyce, yet everyone acts like an eejit.
Wild Mountain Thyme is based on director John Patrick Shanley’s play Outside Mullinger. Two farming families with adjoining land have been feuding since their children were little. The two kids, now grown, are Anthony Reilly and Rosemary Muldoon. For some reason, Christopher Walken was cast as Reilly patriarch Tony Reilly. Did the producers think American audiences would be drawn to an American actor? Well, I’m not even Irish and I can tell that Walken’s Irish accent is terrible; it’s standard bizarre-o Walken delivery with an occasional leprechaunish flair.
Anthony Reilly is played by Jamie Dornan of Fifty Shades infamy. His character is not as unappealing as Christin Grey, admittedly a low bar. The talented Emily Blunt is Rosemary Muldoon. Rosemary is thirsty for Anthony. But he acts like he is afraid of her, as though he is trying to fight an attraction to a beguiling witch.
Writer-director John Patrick Shanley reportedly wanted to make a film for non-Irish people to enjoy (tired) notions of the Emerald Isle folk. Filmed in County Mayo, the landscapes are beautiful, the hills are lush with green and the sheep and cows are charming. Against this backdrop, the actors tromp around looking depressed and quarreling now and again. Anthony says he doesn’t like farming, but loves the land. He advises Rosemary to ‘vacate the country.’ Well, feck off Anthony, she didn’t ask you. Rosemary maintains that he’s just shy and will come around to marry her one day. In fact, we do see him practicing a proposal to her by asking a donkey to marry him. The donkey seems unimpressed. The equines have their own courtship ways and would probably advise Anthony to ask for a date first.
Christopher Walken/Tony arranges a 70th birthday bash for himself, inviting neighbors, and family from America. You can be sure that one of the cousins will take a shine to the wan but comely Rosemary. Okay, so we figure this guy will give the hesitant Anthony a run for his money. I was eager to see who would arrive at the airport…ugh, Jon Hamm. He’s boisterous and rich. At the party, he gives Anthony a white raincoat for some reason. Ah, it’s explained later– so we can be favored with the whimsical sight of Anthony clad in the coat whilst he dashes over hill and dale with a metal detector looking for… something to be explained later.
Have you seen the movie Once? It’s a 2007 movie set in Dublin about two poor songwriters who collaborate and fall for each other. It was made into an alternately rousing and tender musical on Broadway. The film is so naturalistic and free of Irish stereotypes. Absolutely the opposite of Wild Mountain Thyme which is posited on thick twee-ness. The house interiors look circa 1960 and the dialog –some of it admittedly pretty– never feels genuine.
Late in the movie poor Rosemary fixes Anthony with a smoldering look and goes about trying to seduce him, while also demanding to know why he resists her, because he is clearly jealous of the American interloper’s attentions to Rosemary. Soon the twist is revealed — and I guess the successes of Moonstruck and Doubt resulted in no one telling JP Shanley that it was deeply stupid– because it’s a doozy. Was it meant to be funny? It isn’t. But with a few tweaks, it could work as a Black Mirror episode.
***SPOILER ALERT*** Anthony confesses to Rosemary that he can’t marry her like he wants because he believes himself to be a honey bee. Not like his spirit animal, but no, he is not a man, but a bee. WtF? It would’ve been silly if he held too fast to some old folk superstition, but this is as bizarre as Christopher Walken’s Irish accent. (Also, Anthony was using the metal detector to look for his mam’s wedding ring. Hmm, hope he has a license for the metal detector, otherwise he’s violating the law. The government enacted the law to curtail citizens unearthing and selling archaeological treasures which are the property of the nation.)
Movie Loon’s Movie Review Shortcut:
Cut to the Chase: A gifted writer who should’ve shelved this idea. Pretty scenery, some funny lines.
Humor Highlight: Christopher Walken’s Irish accent, of course.