Love, Irish Famer Type, In ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’

Ask any actor, Irish accents are notoriously tricky. Even natives can struggle with regional dialects. So it is a little alarming that the first voice you hear in Wild Mountain Thyme is Christopher Walkens, who sounds exactly like you think Christopher Walken attempting an Irish accent would. It is a bold choice, certainly, and not the most solid footing to start out on. Still it might be worth giving this odd little duckling of a film a chance.

Wild Mountain Thyme is the brainchild of John Patrick Shanley, the Oscar, Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winner behind Doubt and Moonstruck. First a Tony-nominated play called Outside Mullingar, the story is about Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) and Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan), the lonely children of neighboring famers who should be together but arent.

Rosemary, were told, has always been in love with Anthony. Theyve been awkwardly circling one anothers lives since they were 10 years old and she beat up another girl who teased him. But he has other things on his mind than marriage, although what exactly those things are is anyones guess. These beautiful famers arent keen to reveal much to each other, themselves or the audience. Maybe the cows know. Maybe they think theres time to wait. But that time is starting to run out both have lost a parent and both her mother Aiofe (a delightful Dearbhla Molloy, reprising her Broadway role) and his father Tony (Walken) are also nearing the end and thinking about passing on their farms.

While Rosemary is her mothers obvious choice, Tony is less willing to simply give his son the land. Hes concerned about this direction in life and confirmed bachelor status and would sooner gift it to his American nephew Adam (Jon Hamm), who puddle jumps from New York to Ireland as though hes taking a trip to Boston. Theres also a land dispute at the crossroads of the two properties that means that the Reilleys have to get out of their car and unlock a gate every time they go anywhere. For two families who dont seem to know or care how many acres they own, its unclear why ownership of the crossroads would be so important. Like too many things in the film, it seems that its only there for the sake of quirk.

In any event, the threat of Adam and losing the farm inspires Anthony to start to think about planning to propose to Rosemary. This is stretched out for over an hour. Ah, romance!

Theres no doubt you could do better, but you dont seem to be doing much, Anthony rehearses with a donkey.

The writing is wry and occasionally quite funny. Its not unsurprising that it made for a good play. But on film it moves at a languorous pace. Like its characters, its not interested in getting anywhere anytime soon. And Adams introduction and arc (which includes Rosemary making an impulse day trip to New York) feels like a different movie entirely.

Wild Mountain Thyme also presumes that the audience rooting for Rosemary and Anthony from the beginning. Although there are hints at chemistry, it is an extremely awkward and repressed connection on Anthonys end and Im not certain whether its the character or Dornan.

But the Western Ireland vistas are lovely, and the score is too. And there is a good late-film scene with Rosemary and Anthony and some bottled Guinness. Wild Mountain Thyme might be just the understated blend you need for a cold December night.

Wild Mountain Thyme, a Bleecker Street release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for some thematic elements and suggestive comments. Running time: 102. Two and a half stars out of four.


MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.


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