Movie review / ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ (PG)

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Emily Blunt (as Rosemary) and Jamie Dornan (Anthony)… a dramatic confrontation that there’s never any question about which of them will win.

“Wild Mountain Thyme” (PG) ***

IN 1988, American writer John Patrick Shanley won the Best Screenplay Oscar. In 2014, his play “Outside Mullingar” ran for 2½ months on Broadway, after which he turned it into a novel and then into the screenplay for “Wild Mountain Thyme”, which he then directed.

The title comes from a folk song. The lyrics and melody are a variant of “The Braes of Balquhither” by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill and Scottish composer Robert Archibald Smith that Belfast musician Francis McPeake adapted into “Wild Mountain Thyme”. It’s a lovely song.

So what’s Shanley’s play, novel and now movie about after all this trans-Atlantic manipulation?

Stubborn farmer Rosemary (Emily Blunt) has her heart set on winning her neighbour Anthony’s (Jamie Dornan) love. Anthony believes he has inherited a family curse that stops him responding to her blandishments. When his father Tony (Christopher Walken) plans to sell the family farm to his American nephew Adam (Jon Hamm), Rosemary, somewhat fed up with Anthony’s unwillingness to respond to her invitation, jolts him into pursuing her dreams that all along had also been his but he couldn’t express them.

There’s enough dramatic possibility in that outline to make the movie version worth a look. It’s not perfect, but the short-comings are few and, the Irish being the folk they are, may forgive them (although I’m told they tend to decry the way the supporting cast has dealt with its lilting Irish accents).

The accents of the principal cast sounded to me to conform with authenticity (but I can’t confirm that beyond doubt – my forebears came from the other side of the Irish Sea, but that’s another story). It’s pleasing to see Christopher Walken as Anthony’s father. Adam would like to get Rosemary as well as her farm. 

But the film belongs ultimately to Emily Blunt as Rosemary. In what might be called Act 3 of the film, she and Jamie Dornan engage in a dramatic confrontation that there’s never any question about which of them will win. And their performance of the song together is pure delight.

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"Wild Mountain Thyme" (PG) ***
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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