Based upon his own play “Outside Mullingar”, director and writer John Patrick Shanley’s latest film Wild Mountain Thyme is quite literally a breath of fresh air, invigorating our lungs with an air of serenity and long-time love that can only be found amongst the beautiful hills and prairies of rural Ireland.
The piece follows Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt), a headstrong, honest woman and Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan), a handsome man who is as endearingly romantic as he is awkward. The two have lived down the road from each other their whole lives on neighbouring farms. As a child, Rosemary fell in love with Anthony and those feelings have sustained her throughout her adult life. Being of old age, the time has come for Anthony’s father Tony (Christopher Walken) to decide who he should bequeath the family farm to; he is unsure, which upsets Anthony, as his father is considering willing the land to his nephew Adam (Jon Hamm) from America. Should Anthony find himself a wife however and ensure a stable future for himself in order to properly maintain the farm, his father would reconsider.
With his livelihood and all he’s ever known hanging in the balance, Anthony wishes to propose to Rosemary, whose feelings he’s reciprocated since their youth, but is —and always has been— unsure of himself and how he might go about it. Meanwhile, Rosemary and her mother take it upon themselves to convince Tony to change his mind for the sake of the man they both deeply care for. Adam soon comes to Ireland, and he’s the spitting image of a luxury-loving, New York business executive who doesn’t care to blend into a rural lifestyle. His arrival, and unexpected personal grievances soon complicates the simple life that Anthony and Rosemary have, but if they are to be truly happy, they must face their fears of loneliness alongside the coming morning.
Wild Mountain Thyme is a visual tribute to a country that is picturesque and wild; Shanley’s personal admiration of Ireland is evident in the sweeping cinematic shots that are frequently included throughout the film. The score is a compilation of Irish folk music and the melodies are stunning and as reminiscent and as expansive as the historic homeland from which they are born. Each song brings forth a feeling of home —perhaps that is the true, overarching beauty of Shanley’s work: openly inviting viewers to a place where his heart clearly resides.
It is not hard to tell that the piece began as a play, with the way the characters manoeuvre in front of the camera and interact with one another, especially indoors. The cast is noteworthy, seeing as it is composed of Hollywood veterans, and while the storyline is nothing more than a soft drama, their talents are able to shine on screen due to the rolling nature of the script, as it very much mimics the gentle rising and falling of the countryside itself. Blunt and Dornan are especially charming to watch, and the bickering exchanged between their protagonists is playful, romantic and spirited. Their chemistry proves that childhood love is not something that should be so readily dismissed but nurtured and treasured. Quirky comedic moments are also interspersed throughout each scene. Overall, every aspect of the film works together to infuse life into a lovely, homely tale.
The desire to jump on a plane and fly to Ireland is immediately conjured and certainly lingers in one’s mind as the film concludes, leaving viewers wondering if, as the song itself asks, whether they should pursue the love in the fields they wander, growing amongst that wild mountain thyme.
Wild Mountain Thyme is available in select cinemas and on VOD from December 11th
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95