Wild Mountain Thyme

  • 13 Mar - 19 Mar, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Writer-director John Patrick Shanley’s old-fashioned, at times transporting, romantic comedy Wild Mountain Thyme has a lot going for it, which makes it a shame that it’s not a wholly stronger film. That said, as a stress-free chance to take in the lush, gorgeously green Irish countryside, you could do worse.

Based on Shanley’s Tony-nominated 2014 play, Outside Mullingar, the movie works hard to feel lyrical and enchanting, yet it frequently proves too fanciful for its own good. As a result, we often remain on the outside looking in on the lead characters’ blarney-infused fears, foibles and quandaries.

There’s a sweet setup: Forthright Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) and neurotic Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan) grew up on neighbouring family farms in the Irish Midlands and were destined to fall in love from age 10. Going on almost 30 years later, however, they remain stubbornly, dysfunctionally single, working their land and waiting in vain for the other to make the first move.

But their static, solitary existences get upended when Anthony’s aging dad, Tony (Christopher Walken), decides to sell their farm to his well-heeled American nephew, Adam (Jon Hamm), after unilaterally deciding that his oddball bachelor son won’t be up to running things when he’s gone. It’s a seemingly rash decision that gets pushback from both Rosemary and Tony’s wise old friend and neighbour – and Rosemary’s ma – Aoife (Dearbhla Molloy).

A rivalry of sorts emerges when Adam visits the Emerald Isle and takes a liking to both the Reilly farm and the fetching Rosemary. This brings out whatever fight the fatally self-doubting Anthony has in him, but retreat is never far behind.

Several pivotal and somewhat forced events conspire to push Rosemary and Anthony closer together, and despite the bumps along the way – and Adam’s looming presence – there’s little doubt where these two lonely souls are headed.

There are a number of affecting moments en route, including two warmly performed renditions of the well-loved Celtic folk song – and the film’s namesake – Wild Mountain Thyme, a wonderful scene of eleventh-hour father-son resolution, and a lovely ending that makes you wish the movie had calmed down way sooner.