“Welcome,” tells Christopher Walken in the opening moments of Wild mountain thyme. “Welcome to Ireland. My name is Tony Reilly. And I’m dead.”
Even before it was released Wild mountain thyme had positioned itself as a viable candidate for the “Best Bad Film of 2020”, a title that deserves a certain distinction from actually and actively bad films like Artemis poultry or Songbird. The idea of has something inherently performative “Best Bad Movies”which requires that they be inherently entertaining in decidedly unconventional ways. Sure Cats Perhaps the best example of this is Recent Memories, a terrifying film that was quickly reclaimed as a cult classic.
The premiere of the trailer for Wild mountain thyme immediately caught the attention of the internet, as did news about the plot of the play from which writer and director John Patrick Shanley drew. The combination of the factors had something to offer: the terrible accents, the twee portrayal of rural Ireland apparently written from an outsider’s point of view, Shanley’s interview comments on the Irish, and rumors of a crazy twist in Act III. There were some expectations that this could be something like Steven Knight’s serenity.
The truth, of course, is that competition at this level that draws this kind of interest and fascination requires a certain spark. For all problems with serenityIt wasn’t a film that lacked ambition. Knight followed his impulses steadfastly and unquestionably, and there is something exhilarating to see a film so surely move towards a premise so utterly insane without any real idea of how to go about the twists and turns that are going on he wants to apply. Sad, Wild mountain thyme lack that energy and strength. In fact, the worst part about it is how boring it is.
The problems with Wild mountain thyme are frustratingly mundane. They are burned into the premise and are simply a combination of factors that influence numerous films each year. Of course, few films are affected by so many of these problems, and even less so with such severity, but the problem with Wild mountain thyme is never an ambition or appetite beyond one’s capabilities. On the contrary, there is a strong sense of it Wild mountain thyme aims directly at the mundane and misses in several ways.
Watch out Wild mountain thymeis it possible to see how the material might have worked on stage. After all, Shanley is a professional dramatist and there is a feeling that he is more comfortable in a theatrical setting than writing for the screen. Shanley won his Oscar for Moonstruck, a film that has a decidedly theatrical sensibility. However, his first attempt to move into film directing resulted in a spectacular misfire Joe against the volcano. He will do better the next time he tries. doubt, but that was a decidedly conservative staging of his own play.
Wild mountain thyme seems to be some kind of project that could have performed very well in a theatrical setting, appealing to an audience of elderly Irish-American citizens who crave a nostalgic taste of what might be called “The old country.” The film is full of seasoned actors joking with each other in stereotypical Irish cadences. Characters offer nonsense that sounds like wisdom and is polished with a folk gloss. “Does glass have a taste?” asks a character. “Yes,” another answers. “It tastes like teeth.”
None of this suggests Wild mountain thyme – or the piece it is based on, Outside Mullingar – would be good active on stage. However, it is recognizable as a work that plays well in this medium, in which characters can monologue one another, and in which the dialogue has a slightly heightened reality. “Where do we go when we die?” asks the young Anthony Reilly. “The sky?” His partner Rosemary Muldoon is not convinced. “The floor,” She answers. It’s an exchange that could work on a stage but falls flat on the screen.
In fact, it is very easy to identify the intended target market for Wild mountain thyme. They’re Americans with a very distinct and old-fashioned view of Ireland, the kind of character that wealthy American cousin Adam Kelly represents in the play. Adam lives in New York, but still likes to think about his parent company. He is “A banker who dreams of being a farmer”and plans to buy the farm from older Tony Reilly so that he can fulfill this dream. Adam has a very romantic and warped view of Ireland, but it’s one that the movie shares around him.
Wild mountain thyme is a storm of stereotypes about Ireland and the Irish. Adam immediately seems intrigued and confused by his distant relatives. The film finds the stereotype of the quaint and indirect Irish naturally absurd. “Why are you making everything so difficult?” Adam sighs at one point before clarifying: “The Irish people.” It’s not that the stereotype is offensive or anything, it’s just lazy. Wild mountain thyme is aimed directly at an audience that wants to eat these tired and well-worn archetypes because they convey the feeling of an imaginary Ireland.
The film awkwardly points to the depth in the style of a medium-sized stage production, even turning a land use debate into existential meditation. “I don’t understand you guys.” Adam complains. “You just seem to accept these crazy things. Like this gate situation and … “ He stops. Rosemary urges him to quit “And?” He finally does it “Lonliness!” The film keeps returning to a series of uncomfortable metaphors, such as Rosemary, who sees herself as a swan, as in ballet.
Neither of these elements is particularly inspiring on their own, but they are all very familiar. There are many films and plays that suffer from this type of awkward writing each year that still manage to find an audience and success. In fact, it’s easy to see how Outside Mullingar Maybe they worked on stage, with a strong cast and a receptive audience ready to go along with it. The problems lie in translating the piece onto the screen.
Some pieces survive this transition. Lately like movies The guys in the band and Ma Rainey’s black bottom have brought beloved pieces to the screen with charismatic actors and directors, most of which go out of the way. (Shanleys doubt is arguably another example of this approach that works relatively well, just like that of Denzel Washington fencesHowever, these adjustments are based on three key factors: a solid script that provides a solid foundation, a strong cast to bring the work to life, and a director who understands enough not to sabotage the effort.
Wild mountain thyme has none of these three elements. While it is possible to imagine the narrative functioning as a stage play, it seems difficult to imagine that the stage play is in part a modern classic The guys in the band and Ma Rainey’s black bottomwhich means that the film assumes a serious disadvantage. In addition, the film suffers in casting. At least Joe against them volcano Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks had to try to keep it afloat. Jamie Dornan is completely lost in Wild mountain thymeand it’s hard to blame him
The biggest problem with Wild mountain thyme is Shanley’s work as a director. He seems to have completely misunderstood the register in which his piece could function. Instead of adjusting Wild mountain thyme A nostalgic piece for Irish-Americans looking for a piece of home, Shanley makes an overtly surreal decision to shoot the film in the style of a nineties romantic comedy, although the script is in no way designed to support such an approach – Think of The field, directed in the style of Leap year.
However, it quickly becomes clear that Shanley understands romantic comedies as well as Ireland does. The elements of Wild mountain thyme that classic romantic comedies evoke are both superficial and completely overwhelming. Amelia Warner’s score does not accompany the film, but suffocates it. Stephen Goldblatt’s cinematography makes Ireland look like a butter commercial. Shanley can’t even resist the urge to pepper the film with tonally bizarre dog reaction shots that don’t go with the footage.
However, the most frustrating aspect of all of these problems is how mundane they are. Wild mountain thyme Never swing for the fences like those films that manage to make a strange move despite their bad choices. Indeed, the film’s much-lauded final twist is less of a desperate change of genre than a clumsy misfire of a theatrical metaphor. The resulting confusion and chaos is the result of laziness rather than ambition. This is deeply frustrating because the result is a movie that is surprisingly boring and numbing.
Wild mountain thyme is just a bad movie in the more boring sense of this sentence.