'Wild Mountain Thyme' Review: Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan's Irish romance is worse than just awful accents

With an ending that a fifth-grader could have guessed without even watching the trailer, there are some noteworthy mentions from the film that do try their best to save it


                            'Wild Mountain Thyme' Review: Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan's Irish romance is worse than just awful accents
(Bleecker Street)

Spoilers for 'Wild Mountain Thyme'

Do romantic comedies even work anymore? This is a question one might find themselves asking in the jarred and jaded year that has been 2020. Rife with issues plaguing the planet, now hardly seems like the time for a lighthearted romance where minor inconveniences of the privileged take the center stage to evolve into petty drama and an inevitable and usually positive outcome. But these are dark times and maybe finding that bit of light, offering the hope that even star crossed lovers can unite after the most ridiculous, insipid reasons of conflict was John Patrick Shanley's aim with his new film 'Wild Mountain Thyme'. Sadly, the Irish romance goes on to prove that a stellar star cast and picturesque landscapes are hardly any savior when the story is so dry that the terrible attempts at Irish accents start going unnoticed.

The plot revolves around Emily Blunt's Rosemary Muldoon, a hopelessly romantic girl next door, in love with her handsome, aloof neighbor Anthony Riley played by Jamie Dornan. Rosemary is clumsy, "I don't know how gorgeous I am" stereotype, whose mission in life is to marry Anthony, whom she has always harbored feelings for since they were children. Anthony's mission in life is to own the farm his father and narrator Tony Riley — played by a very debilitating Christopher Walken — refuses to write in his name. The reason? Tony, like most quaint farmland parents, wants his son to find true happiness in life as a symbol of initiation into the farm owner he wants to be. And this happiness, is of course, all about getting himself a wife.

So until Anthony gets married, Tony won't give him the farm. But since his time is running out, he invites over his suave financier American nephew, Adam (Jon Hamm), who becomes an immediate rival of the Riley progeny in both aspects: the farm and the lassie on the other side of the land. Thus begins a story of confusing blarney and squabbles that could be put aside if Shanley had not gone on to defend it publicly so very hard, but oh well. There's more that goes wrong with 'Wild Mountain Thyme' than its British actors doing the most ridiculous jobs at spilling an Irish accent. No kidding, the most interesting thing about the film is the conspiracy that's emerged surrounding the poor Irish accents enacted throughout.

The inconsistencies and discrepancies in the plot are many. For starters, Rosemary, who's never lived a day outside her farm adjacent to Riley's, goes on a fun frolicking two-day trip to meet Adam in New York. There is a very confusing Swan Lake ballet incorporated that perhaps was Shanley's way of attempting the elaborate dance number, profound and symbolic third act of a story, the way so many productions have recently. But the one Oscar-winning 'Moonstruck' creator's chords simply don't hit right and neither do they make sense. More often than not, one finds themselves asking just what is the purpose of adding this bit of info into the detail of a film that's already 102 minutes too long? Add to that the absolutely unfathomable and inexplicably vapid reason why Anthony refuses to get married or pursue love (he talks to animals, big whoop!) and you'd be left with more frustrated agony than the warm coziness of a good winter romcom.

Even with an ending that a fifth-grader could have guessed without even watching the trailer, there are some noteworthy mentions from the film that do try their best to save the drab adventure of the Muloons and Rileys, which eventually becomes more of a glaring miss than a hit. Namely, Dearbhla Malloy as Rosemary's mother is a delight the same way a refreshing drink is on a scorching summer day. Dornan's wife Amelia Warner's soundtrack is as authentic and folk as one would resonate Ireland with, trying desperately hard to keep the viewer engrossed, while Christopher Goldenblatt's cinematography does the same with the aesthetics.

But there's only so much the technical bits can do when the core substance is just not enough to chew on. For a crew as acclaimed as Shanley, Blunt, Hamm and Walken, nothing makes sense and neither does any of it do their expertise justice. As for Dornan, Christian Grey still manages to shadow his filmography despite this being the self-proclaimed Irish love story he'd been waiting for.

'Wild Mountain Thyme' will be available in theatres and on demand from Friday, December 11.

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