Reel Reviews | Wild Mountain Thyme

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

A generational Irish love song is portrayed as the play comes to the big screen, Wild Mountain Thyme.

Ever since she was a little child, Rosemary has believed that she is the White Swan, most likely because her father told her she was after she was pushed down by her next farm neighbor, Anthony.  Now as Anthony’s father, Tony, is faced with his legacy and heritage, he has to decide whom to leave his family’s land.  Unfortunately, he cannot sell the land because access to his property you have to go through the gates of the property Rosemary’s father sold to her the same day that Anthony pushed her down.  Faced with this dilemma, Tony is unsure how to dispatch the land especially when his only son is unmarried and is unlikely to produce progeny to keep the land in the family.  Anthony is appalled that his father would consider giving his land away yet what can Anthony do to keep his family’s land?

Wild Mountain Thyme is a romantic comedy written and directed by John Patrick Shanley based upon the play “Outside Mullingar” also written by Shanley.  Shanley is famous for writing the screenplays for the movies Moonstruck and Joe Versus the Volcano and won an Academy Award for Doubt.  This is the third directorial effort for Shanley following Doubt and Joe Versus the Volcano.  Thyme stars Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, and Christopher Walken with Jon Hamm and Jon Tenney

The movie is set on the grand island of Ireland.  The pastoral setting in and of itself is a character that is most beautiful to behold.  The sweeping landscapes, the various levels of rain, and even the farm animal scenes are wonderfully and artfully captured by Oscar-nominated, South African cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt (Batman Forever, The Prince of Tides, The Help).  Goldblatt uses his wide-sweeping eye to even capture the cold city of New York with some character yet not as much as to make anywhere near as charming as the farm setting of the film.

The script is as complex as Moonstruck where there are two lovers with one Rosemary knowing that she is in love and the other Anthony somehow also knowing that he is in love but fiercely fighting the urge to give in to the voices in his head.  Somehow, Shanley seems to mix life and death and love and duty together well to create a story that is deeply romantic and tender yet crazily comedic and tragic.

This could be a good movie if it weren’t for one thing, the casting.  There are some strange choices of actors for the film that hampers its ability to be accessed.  First, Emily Blunt is a little awkward.  Although her performance is quite good because of who she is she looks out of place.  She is never convincing as the farmer she is supposed to be.  Instead, she seems like she is out of a prequel to A Quiet Place and we are just waiting for the monsters to come. 

Speaking of monsters, Jamie Dornan, despite being dressed down and scattered, doesn’t really shake his skin Christian Grey.  His performance as the cursed and befuddled nincompoop who refuses to see what is right in front of him is probably the best in the film.  He truly makes the viewers wonder what the secret is that keeps him from moving forward.  Being that he is Irish, Dornan is the best at his role if for no other reason than he can hold the Irish brogue better than the other stars in the film (Walken).

The biggest problem with the casting is that there is absolutely no chemistry between Blunt and Dornan.  They don’t seem right for each other and no one wants to root for them to get together.  The whole movie seems like an exercise in duty rather than passion which is not good for a romantic comedy.  Cher and Nicholas Cage succeeded, even Hanks and Ryan were great, Blunt and Dornan are not even close.

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and suggestive comments, Wild Mountain Thyme is a sad love song with a soggy Irish backbone.  It is neither lovely nor loveable for those who are practical and even less so for those who are true romantics.  Maybe the play was better because this gorgeous movie just gets stuck in its own muck and mire.

Grade:  D+