Wild Mountain Thyme Review
Back in March, we all thought the world would have returned to normal by the time the temperatures dropped and it was time to decorate your Christmas tree. With the end of the year fast approaching it doesn't look likely and in a cruel twist of fate, adding to our collective injury, 2020 has one more curveball to throw our way. The name of that curveball? Wild Mountain Thyme, a film so terrible it makes Gigli, the infamous Ben Affleck-starring romcom look like a masterpiece.
John Patrick Shanley’s film revolves around Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) and Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan), who seem to be destined for each other. Anthony is plagued by fears of a family curse, hinted to be mental health issues. When Anthony’s elderly father Tony (Christopher Walken) decides to sell the family farm, a dashing American Adam (Jon Hamm) comes and shows interest in Rosemary, her and Anthony’s life into flux.
Trying to summarise Wild Mountain Thyme’s plot is difficult. Not because it’s packed with twists and turns or difficult to follow, but because I have no idea what the film is about. I know what happens in it, I know how the story pans out, but I do not know whose story this is or what it is trying to say about the world or the characters that inhabit it, making for a shallow, almost worthless, watch.
Despite Shanley’s family being Irish-American, the film feels like an American’s view of what being Irish is like. It lacks proper understanding of the culture and people, instead relying on tired stereotypes and easy signals to tell the audience we are indeed, still in Ireland. Every scene is accompanied by string music and as many noted when the trailer debuted, the accents are all over the place and downright laughable, but Wild Mountain Thyme is also a deeply amusing film, but mostly unintentionally so.
Dornan and Blunt do their very best with a weak script. Blunt has an extraordinary ability to project warmth on screen, even when her character here is bland and miserable. Dornan, who hails from Northern Ireland and struggles with the southern accent, is surprisingly solid, but two decent performances don’t fix the lack of focus and perspective in Shanley’s script. Wild Mountain Thyme is based on his Broadway play Outside Mullingar and often feels stagey in its direction and set ups. The narrative could potentially work well on stage where the intimate setting and live performances might help you forget just how unbelievable and ridiculous everything about the story is.
For a film that so clearly wants to be a romance, Wild Mountain Thyme has a strange idea of marriage and love. Here, both are treated as something cold and almost clinical, feeling more like a transaction. Here, attraction is dictated by practicality rather than passion and marriage is the logical agreement between two single people, rather than something stemming from genuine affection and representation of love. None of the actors share any chemistry and there is never a clear sense of why Rosemary and Anthony are made for each other, making it hard to root for the two of them to end up together.
Just as you thought things couldn’t get any worse, a pretty mind-blowing twist happens in the last act. On one hand, it’s stupid and laughable, perhaps even a little offensive, although Wild Mountain Thyme doesn’t have enough substance to actually offend anyone, but it could also cement the film as a The Room -type cult classic that will play at midnight to huge crowds in fancy dress. The film has a certain innocence, wearing its tired, grumpy heart at its sleeve, but unfortunately, it is the worst 2020 has to offer with its empty, unintentionally funny and ridiculous narrative.
Wild Mountain Thyme is in select theatres and available on VOD in the US from December 11.