Wild Mountain Thyme

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

Wild Mountain Thyme
dir-scr John Patrick Shanley
prd Leslie Urdang, Anthony Bregman, Alex Witchel, Martina Niland
with Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Christopher Walken, Jon Hamm, Dearbhla Molloy, Danielle Ryan, Barry McGovern, Tommy O'Neill, Lydia McGuinness, Don Wycherley, Darragh O'Kane, Abigail Coburn
release US 11.Dec.20,
UK 8.Jan.21
20/Ireland Bleecker Street 1h42

blunt walken hamm

Is it streaming?

dornan and blunt
With an expansive sense of the Irish countryside, John Patrick Shanley adapts his play Outside Mullingar for the big screen as a blend of crusty comedy and sweeping romance. The film is warm and engaging, but might have been stronger with a lighter directorial touch and less commercially minded casting. Even so, it's a cleverly offbeat exploration of awkward small-town relationships, creating a comically exaggerated sense of Ireland.
Rosemary and Anthony (Blunt and Dornan) grew up on neighbouring farms in rural Ireland. Now an able farmer herself, Rosemary has long pined over the always-underestimated Anthony. But he's utterly oblivious about her, preoccupied by the fact that his father Tony (Walken) is selling their farm to his American nephew Adam (Hamm). Rosemary owns a key piece of land, and perhaps she can use it to get Anthony's attention. First thought she'll have to fend off Adam's charming advances. Or maybe she can use those to her advantage too.
Shanley is gifted at finding the emotional underpinnings of quirky characters. His dialog often sounds random and pointless, but everything feeds into a deeper exploration of how these people are connected to each other and to their family land. As the interloper, Adam can't understand why the locals are so messy about business and property ownership. Knowingly, this is less an insult about the Old Country than a comment about Americans who only care about how wealthy they look.

Arguments about accents aside, the excellent actors embrace the oddities of their characters. Blunt has a fiery spark that brings Rosemary to life, grounded firmly in this specific place. Her scenes with the earnest, matter-of-fact Dornan are enjoyably ramshackle, as they struggle to reach common ground but are clearly destined for each other. Hamm has a lot of fun as the smooth, blustery outsider. And while Molloy shines particularly brightly as Rosemary's no-nonsense mum, it's Walken who walks off with the film, giving Tony a blast of earthy emotionality.

There's a lovely moment in which Anthony expresses the pressure he feels from all of his ancestors to make sure the farm continues and prospers. And Rosemary has her own sense of purpose driving her, something no one else can understand. Even though both speak directly, they're simply appalling at expressing themselves, believing that hiding their feelings is a virtue. So their prickly interaction is hilarious and revelatory. Yes, each of us may be a bit mad, but that's no reason to be afraid of life.

cert 12 themes, language 29.Dec.20

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© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall