Based on his own play, Outside Mullingar, John Patrick Shanley has given us a film so wonderfully Irish, it might as well be performed by leprechauns and have Daniel O’Donnell singing the closing credits song.
Right in the heart of rural Ireland, County Mayo to be precise, two families own two overlapping farms with an inconveniently positioned pair of gates a bone of contention between them. Both families have lost an elderly parent, but the Muldoon farm is in safe hands with daughter Rosemary (Emily Blunt) a more than capable farmer and able to look after the land, animals and her mother (Dearbhla Molloy), but recently widowed Tom Reilly’s (Christopher Walken) is another matter. He regularly clashes with his son, Anthony (Jamie Dornan), because he isn’t convinced Anthony will run the farm efficiently when he’s gone.
When illness takes hold of the remaining parents, problems arise when Tom decides to sell his farm to his wealthy American nephew, Adam, (John Hamm) rather than leave it to Anthony. To further complicate things, Rosemary has been in love with Anthony since childhood and is determined to win his heart, but he seems oblivious to her charms. When Adam pointedly expresses an interest in finding a wife, alarm bells fail to ring in Anthony’s head leading to the standard ‘will they – won’t they’ scenario.
There’s a quaint and endearing Irish charm running throughout which just about manages to hold interest, but it’s a frustrating watch and one that relies too heavily on its quirkiness too see it through. Blunt and Dornan are terrific together, although their relationship is predictable and infuriatingly annoying to watch play out. Indeed, during one scene where Anthony fails to recognise Rosemary’s feelings for him, you’ll want to bash their heads together to knock some sense into them. It doesn’t help that Anthony isn’t particularly likeable either. His rather dull personality and socially awkward behaviour make him difficult to root for. When John Hamm turns up, oozing his usual charisma, and injects some much-needed life into proceedings, you’re desperate for Rosemary to turn her attention on him instead.
Christopher Walken’s unique voice is all the more intriguing when attempting an Irish accent. It’s not always successful and regularly slips, but he’s still such a colossal presence that it’s easy to forgive this. Amelia Warner’s delightfully Celtic influenced score accompanies some spectacular Irish landscapes with sweeping drone shots showcasing its majesty. Death and the afterlife are handled with an acceptance and casualness that only the Irish could get away with and the bizarre final 15 minutes is as bonkers as anything you’ll see this year. Seriously, there’s a buzz to proceedings unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Perfectly harmless and not without humour, Wild Mountain Thyme is a pleasant Sunday afternoon film, but one that will be forgotten about before that pint of Guinness begins to settle.
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME IS AVAILABLE TO RENT FROM ALL MAJOR UK DIGITAL RETAILERS FROM APRIL 30TH 2021