Why anyone would cast Jamie Dornan in a romantic anything, let alone a supposed romantic comedy, is beyond me. He was incapable of generating any chemistry whatsoever with his co-star in the FIFTY SHADES series, and unfortunately that inability has continued here in WILD MOUNTAIN THYME opposite the immensely talented --- and totally lovely --- Emily Blunt. And trust me, it’s definitely not her fault.
Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley based on his play “Outside Mullingar”, WILD MOUNTAIN THYME takes us to the breathtaking countryside of Ireland where Rosemary Muldoon (Blunt) runs her family farm, which is next door to the Reilly farm. She has been in love with Anthony Reilly (Dornan) since she was 10, and now in her 30s she’s still hoping he will propose to her someday.
Anthony is confused and lacking in confidence. He thinks he wants to marry Rosemary --- in one of the dumbest scenes I’ve witnessed in ages he’s caught practicing his proposal in a field to a donkey --- but he simply cannot muster the nerve. His aging father, Tony (Christopher Walken), isn’t helping because he thinks Anthony won’t ever ask for Rosemary’s hand either, so he’s decided to sell the farm to his wealthy American nephew, Adam (Jon Hamm).
Tony is convinced Anthony will never be able to handle the farm on his own after he dies. So, of course, it falls to poor Rosemary to get Anthony off his duff --- and out of his shell --- to get hitched (though I honestly don’t know why she would want to). When Adam shows up in Ireland and takes a shine to Rosemary, things become even more complicated.
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME could have been --- should have been --- so much better. Blunt, Walken and Hamm are great. And the storyline is mildly entertaining. But Dornan’s presence --- and lack of acting ability --- just ruins the movie. Seriously Blunt and Hamm have more chemistry in one scene than she does with Dornan throughout the entire film.
Ireland has never looked more beautiful --- one of my favorite places --- but gorgeous scenery and wonderful original music by Amelia Warner cannot save WILD MOUNTAIN THYME. If you are a fan of Blunt/Walken --- or Hamm (who has a small role) --- it might be worth a view. And oh, Rosemary does own a rather magnificent black mare, if you like horses.
Opinion: WAIT FOR VOD
It’s almost worth tuning into WILD MOUNTAIN THYME just to enjoy Emily Blunt singing a national folk tune of Ireland or hear her character utter a phrase like “I’m all aflutter” in her mild Irish brogue. Writer/director John Patrick Shanley’s adaptation of his Tony-nominated stage play “Outside Mullingar” is certainly beautiful to behold --- a can’t miss considering Ireland’s countryside and its indigenous animals. Add a moving score by Amelia Warner --- who happens to be the wife of lead actor Jamie Dornan --- and WILD MOUNTAIN THYME would seem to have a lot going for it.
Billed as a romantic comedy, the movie is a bit light in the romance area, although Shanley does infuse his story with enough humorous dialogue to elicit chuckles. The all-too-infrequent visits to the local tavern and its small band of music makers are highlights. However, I truly wish Blunt was given more to do from a singing standpoint.
Save for a poignant scene involving family patriarch Tony Reilly (Christopher Walken) and his son Anthony (Dornan), there’s not much drama, either. And despite Rosemary Muldoon’s (Blunt) persistence in pining for a man she was infatuated with at the age of 10, his questionable reluctance to further their relationship rings a bit hollow when they ultimately do get together after more than 20 years as “friends” in their farming community.
A couple of bright spots in the supporting cast deserve mention. Rosemary’s mother is played by veteran Dublin-born actress Dearbhla Molloy. She fires off some snappy lines and we feel the loss when her character passes away. And none other than Jon Hamm is a breath of fresh air as Adam Reilly, Anthony’s cousin, who appears midway with sights set on buying the family farm. Adam also has his eyes focused on Rosemary, flirting with her about visiting him in New York unaware of Rosemary’s feelings for Anthony. Here Shanley creates an interesting tete-a-tete on an Aer Lingus flight from NYC to Dublin. En route to likely woo Rosemary, Adam meets an attractive passenger seated next to him, so we wonder where that will lead.
While Shanley is more known for his live theater contributions, on film he also directed DOUBT, the Meryl Streep/Amy Adams/Viola Davis/ Philip Seymour Hoffman vehicle based on his own stage play that earned him a Pulitzer Prize. Shanley insisted on WILD MOUNTAIN THYME for the title of this film because it is linked to a Celtic folk song. On that note, part of the shoot was done in Ballina in western Ireland, the home to President-elect Joe Biden’s great-great-grandfather.
If you’ve read Jeanne’s review, I’m guessing she writes about her disdain for Dornan as an actor, dating back to his turn in the original in the series, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. No doubt he plays a bit of a putz and is generally spineless in WILD MOUNTAIN THYME. But I would argue that’s the way his character was written --- his performance is as it should have been. He is alternately insecure and feisty, and although commitment phobic, Anthony displays real feelings in the scene with his father.
Not to be repetitive but any film with Emily Blunt is worth watching. Rosemary eventually switches into high gear to let Anthony know exactly where she stands, and that is fun to witness.
Opinion: WAIT FOR VOD