The Wild Mountain Thyme trailer is causing headlines and for all the wrong reasons. A love story set in rural Ireland, based on the play Outside Mullingar by writer/director John Patrick Shanley. And it is getting torn apart with accusations of “paddywhack” being thrown around. As one critic says “All we have is a trailer, and there have been frequent examples…of a minor classic following a disastrous promo.” But why is it getting such a kicking? Partly, people are angry that the plot is reinforcing crude stereotypes of Irish people and our social relations. Others are upset about the accents. Many are both.
The story goes: headstrong Emma Blunt and Jamie Dornan live on neighbouring farms. Emma has her heart set on Jamie since childhood, but the artistic Jamie seems oblivious to her. Jamie’s father, Christopher Walken, doesn’t hold much hope of his son taking over the farm and prepares to give it to Jamie’s American cousin Jon Hamm. Jon just happens to sweep Emma off her feet with his Americanisms, who ends up having to choose between Jon and Jamie.
So, as someone who is Irish, I thought I could give a dissection of this trailer and see why people are getting riled up.
Okay, here we go. Be balanced; don’t get excited or riled. Just watch.
Christopher Walken, an Academy Award winner, puts on an “Orish” accent and welcomes us to Ireland. Stock footage plays.
The Lord is testing me.
I’ve never had someone call me a fuckin’ mook while watching a trailer, but I’m expecting Walken to do so. This is meant to be set near Mullingar and shows us the farms beside loughs, mountains and the Atlantic coastline. Mullingar is as flat as a pool table and is in a landlocked county. Okay, it’s just dramatic geography and one lousy accent. It’s just that.
The two main characters growing up on their farms. Walken looking like Richard Harris in The Field. Cue dialogue.
It’s not just that. Oh, sweet God, it’s not just that. Please stop it. No child in Ireland has ever asked the stars “Why did you make me so?” And how the hell is Dornan’s accent worse than Walken’s? He’s from Belfast. Why is he doing a worse accent? How is he doing a worse accent? But we know Blunt is playing a headstrong woman. She has dirt on her face and doesn’t wear a helmet while horse riding. This shows that she’s independent, takes control, doesn’t care what anybody thinks about her appearance, and will dutifully wait decades for Dornan to make the first move.
Dornan acts the eccentric while Blunt pleads her case to Walken.
Now, this is interesting. The lyrical Dornan falls into the river while on a coracle, just to show how kooky and poetic he is. You see, the Sensitive-Irish-Farmer’s-Son stock character actually predates the Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl by at least thirty years.
Walken decides to leave the farm to Dornan’s American cousin.
It’s not just one actor’s accent. It’s all the accents. It’s not just a flat character. It’s all the walking stereotypes. The arrival of Hamm and his roguish American ways has Blunt all a fluster.
Blunt: “And what are you waiting for?”
Hamm: “Me? I don’t wait.”
Blunt: “I do like that.”
I need to take a walk.
“It ‘twas he that kissed me.”
“It ‘twas he that kissed me.”
01:46 – 02:15
Blunt pushes for Dornan to make a move as the trailer wraps up to sell you on the movie.
I thought the line, as mentioned above, was the worst. But nope, the trailer has dropped this belter on me.
Dornan: “I don’t like to fight.”
Blunt: “Well, who does?”
Dornan: “Half of Ireland. Just not me!”
While Walken muses on the nature of love, the couple-in-the-rain-montage reminds the viewer that no one in rural Ireland can achieve climax unless it’s in the rain.
02:16 – 02:30
“How many days do we have left while the sun shines?”
“It’s not shining.”
“I believe it is.”
I just cringed so hard; I think I broke a tooth.
Well, that’s that watched. I think the only course of action left open is for us to remake The Deer Hunter with the surviving cast members of Ballykissangel.
Pretty sure this film will count as a hate crime. The sad thing is, this isn’t even the worst portrayal of Irish people and accents Hollywood has done. Need we be reminded of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Far and Away? Known locally as Away and shite. Though, to be fair to that film, it had more Irish actors playing Irish people than this one has. It’s not like we lack for award-winning actors. It’s just that this happens to sound like the latest in a long line of poorly written films with bad accents and clichéd depictions of Ireland. The accents aren’t true Irish accents. They’re the accents we put on when we want to lull someone into a false sense of security. I heard on the radio today that the cast didn’t contact the dialogue coach once during production.
I don’t even think these films take place in Ireland anymore. They’re set in “Paddyworld” which is clearly one of the theme parks from Westworld. A theme park of Guinness, cabbage and potatoes, Aran sweaters, and that will bring us near a million euros in tourism, but a theme park none the less.
Now I must go and prepare myself because I have no doubt set myself to review this when it comes out.
 Donald Clarke, “Wild Mountain Thyme Trailer: What In The Name Of Holy Bejaysus Is This Cowpat?” The Irish Times, 2020, https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/wild-mountain-thyme-trailer-what-in-the-name-of-holy-bejaysus-is-this-cowpat-1.4405893.