Wild Mountain Thyme – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: John Patrick Shanley
Starring: Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Jon Hamm, Dearbhla Molloy, Christopher Walken
Available on VOD on April 30th
I don’t usually start a review like this but if you are Irish and don’t want your blood to boil then avoid this film like the plague. Treat it like a Coronavirus super spreader that you don’t even want to be in vicinity of because this is Paddywhackery on an astonishing level. Even the truly awful Chasing Leprechauns was less patronising than this movie.
Writer/ director Shanley didn’t make it for the Irish telling the Irish Independent last December: “no good will come from trying to get the Irish to love you.” He added: “I told Emily (Blunt) when we first talked about this project, ‘I’m not making this movie for the Irish’.” And in the same interview the poor dear also compared himself to John Millington Synge and Frank McCourt, claiming that their works drew criticism for their depiction of Ireland as impoverished and its people as primitive and violent. So before I even tell you what this is about I think you can pretty much gauge the disdain that he judges our nation with. Yet, ironically, this film isn’t a parody and he is serious!
Rosemary (Blunt) who is described as “headstrong farmer” in the official synopsis (so she’s Biddy from Glenroe if Biddy looked like a model and had a terrible accent and knew nothing about farming), is infatuated with her neighbour Anthony (Dornan) who is oblivious to her charms, which of course makes her want him all the more. So enter his American cousin Adam (Hamm) who makes his intentions towards her clear as he arrives in Ireland to look into taking over Anthony’s family farm. Fast forward to lots of “hilarious” confusion, culture clashes and the most hackneyed stereotyping you have seen in many years.
Have I sold it to you yet? Wait, there’s more. Every single solitary accent is appalling. On a scale of one to Tom Cruise in Far and Away it’s an eleven. I was particularly astonished that Dornan’s accent was so bad since he actually is Irish. Walken dials it in and awful doesn’t begin to describe his attempts at the accent. Blunt actually looks completely unconvinced throughout. To be fair apparently the actors aren’t to blame for the accents. Shanley again takes credit for that telling Variety in December 2020 that no one would understand the characters if they sounded exactly like his relatives spoke, and said “you have to make the accent more accessible to a global audience”. I mean Colin Farrell and Michael Fassbender have no problem being understood!
So I think you can gather that I hated this. I’m not even going to try and defend it. I always, try and find something redeeming in even the most awful film but nothing works here. Now if you excuse me I have to run out the back to milk a cow while ensuring a pick a few potatoes for dinner on the way and I’ll have a chat with a leprechaun while I’m at it, because that is obviously the real Ireland as Shanley sees it.