[Screen It]


(2020) (Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan) (PG-13)

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Quirky Romantic Drama: Upset that his father might sell the family farm to his American cousin since he's not married, a young Irish man tries to summon the bravery needed to tell his farming neighbor how he feels about her.

Rosemary Muldoon (EMILY BLUNT) and Anthony Reilly (JAMIE DORNAN) have known each other since they were kids growing up on adjoining farms in Ireland. Rosemary, who lives with her widowed mother, Aoife (DEARBHLA MOLLOY), clearly knows how she feels about Anthony but has just about run out of patience waiting for him to make a romantic move. As has Anthony's father, Tony (CHRISTOPHER WALKEN), who's so upset about his son's lack of action in that department that he's thinking of selling the family farm to his nephew, Adam Kelly (JON HAMM), who lives in New York, rather than allow Anthony to inherit it.

Contending with that development as well as the older local gossip, Cleary (BARRY McGOVERN), spreading rumors about him, Anthony must summon the courage to overcome his shyness and tell Rosemary how he feels, all before it's too late.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10

When I was a kid, I mostly hung out with other boys, but there were girls in the picture as well, mostly those in my suburban neighborhood. While I've reconnected with a few through social media all these years later, and due to having moved away after college, I haven't seen any of them in person in decades.

All of which got me wondering how many childhood friendships turn romantic and how many of those lead to marriage and living "happily ever after." Unless one lives in some sort of cult group or a remote village where nobody ever leaves, I can't imagine those numbers are exceedingly high.

Well, that notion is put to the test in "Wild Mountain Thyme," a quirky romantic dramedy named after the two-centuries-old Irish song of the same name. In the film, two youngish adults have known each other their entire lives, what with having grown up on adjacent farms in the Irish countryside, and there are some romantic longings from both sides, albeit none successfully manifested so far.

The film comes from John Patrick Shanley, an American playwright, screenwriter, and director behind films such as "Joe Versus the Volcano," "Alive" and "Congo," but probably best known for penning the romantic comedy "Moonstruck" for which he won an Academy Award. He tries to apply some of that same quirky magic that fueled that flick to this offering, but I found the results mixed at best despite a good cast and a beautiful setting.

In Shanley's story, Emily Blunt plays Rosemary Muldoon, a headstrong farmer who runs a farm of unknown acreage owned by her widowed mother, Aoife (Dearbhla Molloy). The part that she owns outright is just a small strip of land marked by two gates (that must be opened and closed to permit driving on the road that crosses that) that separates her land from that of her neighbor, Tony Reilly (Christopher Walken). Don't worry, we're not talking a potential romance featuring a 40-year age span, as the boy turned young man she grew up near is Tony's son, Anthony (Jamie Dornan).

Unlike that actor's best-known character -- the title one of those "Fifty Shades" flicks -- his here is anything but a self-assured, confident, and definitely not a controlling male figure into kinky stuff. That is, unless you consider his attraction to bees, something that's apparently a big deal for his character, but only touched upon twice -- late in the film and then in a prologue -- including when he was a boy who pushed young Rosemary after the latter got after another girl for making fun of him acting like a bee and ending up with pollen on his nose.

Apparently, that led to some sort of falling out between the two that's continued to this day decades later, although they're cordial enough whenever their paths cross. But Rosemary secretly longs for him and he sort of secretly does toward her, but is so shy, insecure, and basically maladjusted that he can't act upon those feelings.

None of which sits well with his old man who so wants his son to marry that he's decided that since it doesn't appear that's going to happen, rather than bequeath the family farm to him, he's going to sell it to Anthony's American cousin, Adam (Jon Hamm).

The dashing New Yorker arrives in no less than a Rolls Royce and immediately decides he likes farming, only because the attractive Rosemary lives next door. All of which means Anthony must get his act together and act quickly before it's too late.

It's a decent enough premise, but much of what's present has a herky-jerky and occasionally rushed feel to it as related to the overall storytelling. The performances are generally okay, but don't get me started on the "Irish" accents that, well, don't exactly sound authentic from any of the leads (especially Walken).

Amelia Warner's score is tasked with informing and then repeatedly reminding us that what we're watching is quicky material, and sometimes come off as a bit too desperate in such attempts.

Like the piece of land that separates the two farms, I found myself somewhere in the middle regarding being nitpicky with those criticisms and simply letting go and allowing the flick to wash over me. Thus, "Wild Mountain Thyme" ends up with a middle of the Irish countryside road with a score of 5 out of 10.

Reviewed December 7, 2020 / Posted December 11, 2020

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