I love romance. I don’t think it will spoil anything to say that one of the genres I write is romance so I can be particular about my romance books and movies. But after reading the synopsis, I really wanted to give this film a chance. After watching this beautiful, cinematic film set in Ireland, I found this romance has Christopher Walken at his finest along with superb performances by Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Jon Hamm, and Dearbhla Malloy. The story is perfectly charming and I fell in love with the characters.
Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, Wild Mountain Thyme stars Emily Blunt as Rosemary Muldoon, an Irish farmer. Rosemary is wildly in love with her neighbor, Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan) but Anthony is seemingly oblivious, struggling with a family curse. But Anthony discovers that his father, Tony (Christopher Walken) has plans to sell the family farm to his nephew, Adam Kelly (Jon Hamm). Stung, Anthony is jolted into pursuing his dreams. But will he figure it out in time to keep the farm and Rosemary Muldoon?
Described as a drama rather than a romance, this film doesn’t follow the typical pattern for a romance as it focuses as much on both characters’ family ties and Anthony’s dreams as much as any attraction between the two. While the romance elements do follow a certain pattern, that is a plus to viewers looking at a love story. And for those who are looking for something more, this movie has a very Irish sensibility with rambling stories by secondary characters and a sense of humor that is Irish in perspective. The actions of the characters quite frequently had me laughing and charmed me. The story isn’t straight forward as even the beginning is cloaked in death and tragedy follows both characters as much as laughter and love. That lack of linear storytelling made me appreciate the film even more with moments like Rosemary chasing her horse or Anthony falling in a lake. Not only do those bring more comedic moments to the movie but they will have any audience laughing.
The movie is filmed on location in Ireland. The scenery is gorgeous and adds to the beauty of the story by providing landscapes that are impossible not to fall in love with. And filming in the country added to the realism of the circumstances, the authenticity of a working farm. The secondary characters add to the believability as they speak and act like people living in a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. I appreciated the humor in that scenario.
While the accents are not universally perfect, the actors have striven to come near to the lingo and flavor of Ireland. Christopher Walken’s distinctive voice is almost unrecognizable as he embraces an Irish flow. But that flavor would not work without the rich dialogue which is one of the strongest elements to the success of the movie. Large portions of the dialogue sound like poetry. And the dialogue carries the charm and humor of the Irish tongue, such as the description of a neighbor as Bad News Cleary or said neighbor telling the story of Anthony proposing to a donkey. There are also lines that resonate with power, like “Hope is a force” and “Women are the salvation of the world.” Those lines and laughter will stay with me for a long time. Every moment of the film is filled with words and scenes that are filled with sweetness, beauty, a bit of song, and a touch of sadness, just like life.
While the writing is powerful, it also the performances that made this film so enjoyable. As I mentioned, Christopher Walken was at his finest, with a believable and rich performance as Tony, Anthony’s father. The rest of the cast is also superb. Emily Blunt portrays Rosemary as headstrong, stubborn with a touch of temper and while that may seem stereotypical, this is true to every Irish woman I have ever met, being part Irish myself. She also conveys a touch of madness, which the most passionate seem to have. Jamie Dornan is both sweet, oblivious, and hilarious as Anthony, portraying his character as a dreamer and as mad as a poet. The chemistry between Emily and Jamie is beautiful, as they feel like long time friends struggling to jump to that next level. Jon Hamm as Adam plays his character as practical but with the fantasy of being a farmer with no clue how to be one. He is willing to sweep Rosemary off her feet but only if she’ll allow and is the perfect foil to Anthony. Dearbhla Malloy as Rosemary’s mother is hilarious.
There was very little I didn’t like about this movie. If I was going to think of something, it is that it is billed as a drama while I see it more as a love story. I also found it rambling like the best Irish fairytale but that was not a detraction to me. But I do think viewers will need to appreciate a rather Irish sensibility and humor to enjoy the film.
If you do love movies set in Ireland with that sense of humor, both dark and sardonic, full of wit and poetry, then this film will be perfect for you. The characters are a little bit mad, a lot charming, and the story is full of love with a dash of tragedy leavening the humor. The story doesn’t follow the typical pattern for a romance but does have a healthy dose of love along with the drama. I loved this movie, found it perfectly Irish, and everything about it makes me want to watch it over and over.