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Oirish success Review: Wild Mountain Thyme is actually quite good

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Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt in a scene from the new rom-com Wild Mountain Thyme

Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt in a scene from the new rom-com Wild Mountain Thyme

Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt in a scene from the new rom-com Wild Mountain Thyme

Like sausage making, childbirth and politics, no one really wants to know how movies deals are made and financed. Without big names at the box office that will sell tickets, investors often won’t go near the greatest script in the world.

And so it is with Wild Mountain Thyme, the new movie from John Patrick Shanley who also wrote Doubt and Moon struck among other hits.

Set in Mayo and reminiscent of both The Quiet Man and The Field, the movie cast Christopher Walken, Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt into the role of the main protagonists.

Walken embodies a kind of Richard Harris physicality in the role of the grumpy father of Anthony (Jamie Dornan), and while he continues to be a fine actor, his accent is pure New Jersey. He looks like an Irish farmer with excellent hair, but don’t listen too closely to his Mayo “accent.”

Jamie Dornan’s Anthony is a somewhat innocent and pure farmer who is oblivious to the huge attraction his neighbor Rosemary Muldoon has for him, despite fake fights and yearning looks over the hedge.

Dornan’s Belfast accent is deeply buried under what at times sounds like an Oirish accent out of central casting. But his good looks and innocence are seductive in this movie, which is not without charm.

Based on a successful Broadway play called Outside Mullingar, it’s the first movie John Patrick Shanley has set in Ireland. His father emigrated from Mullingar to New York when he was in his 20’s and Shanley grew up as a first generation Irish-American steeped in his father’s Irish heritage.

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Jamie Dornan in Wild Mountain Thyme

Jamie Dornan in Wild Mountain Thyme

Jamie Dornan in Wild Mountain Thyme

Emily Blunt looks way too glamorous to be a celibate farmer filled with yearning. While she does just fine on-screen her Irish accent is the most distracting of all and often sounds like she’s repeating the deses and doses from whispers in an earpiece she might be wearing.

The rough and tumble, as well as the intransigence between Rosemary and Anthony are not without charm, even if these two Hollywood actors’ beauty are a bit of a stretch for the locale in which their story is set. Nevertheless the script has a beauty and lyricism which show Shanley’s talent as an Oscar winning scriptwriter and the movie is a very affectionate nod to Ireland and the Irish landscape.

The huge pull of the land and the bitter conflicts it has created in Ireland are skillfully reflected in this movie. When Jon Hamm shows up as the big flash American who wants to buy a piece of land that runs between the two farms owned by Anthony and Rosemary, the movie takes a promising comic shift.

While he has a glamour reminiscent of John Wayne as Sean Thornton in the Quiet Man, he is not nearly as tortured. He has that American practicality, where money talks and has none of the memory or sensitivity of place and the importance imbued in the land. His matter of factness brings some good laughs to the script and an overall lightness to the story.

This movie could have been made with Irish actors with perfect accents, but the industry and the distributors and ultimately global audiences would likely not have seen it or paid it any attention.

Yes, the accents are patchy, but nowhere nearly as awful as Julia Roberts in Michael Collins or Tom Cruise in Far and Away, but otherwise it’s a good movie, worth a watch.

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