Blunt and Dornan co-star as Rosemary Muldoon and Anthony Reilly—Tony’s son—who’ve grown up in this rural wonderland and spent all their lives on neighboring farms. She’s sassy and no-nonsense. He’s gentle and a little awkward. A slight from childhood, which we see in an early flashback, and the rights to a small piece of land connecting their families’ properties serve as insurmountable obstacles to the fact that they’re clearly meant for one another. Besides knowing everything about each other, sharing decades of history and enjoying a lively chemistry, they’re the only single, gorgeous people of their age around. And so we must wait 102 minutes for them to acknowledge they’ve secretly been in love with each other all this time.
But the arrival from New York of Anthony’s cousin, Adam, eventually shakes Rosemary and Anthony from their romantic détente. Jon Hamm plays him with all-American, capitalistic swagger and greed (and, mercifully, no accent), and he serves as our conduit in marveling at this place that’s wondrous yet stuck in time. He’s flown to Ireland in hopes of staking his claim to the Reilly family farm—including that disputed stretch of road that links it to Rosemary’s—and perhaps to Rosemary herself.
As the farce escalates, we’re treated to such wacky encounters as Anthony practicing his proposal to Rosemary on a donkey, sparking a rumor among the local eccentrics about his affection for livestock. He also falls out of a boat, and while Dornan seems game for the change of pace this kind of physical comedy affords him, it’s not exactly his strong suit. Rosemary, meanwhile, has a majestic horse that has a habit of running away in a bit of an obvious metaphor. But she also gets a chance to reveal her sensitive side when she gets up on stage at the pub and sings the traditional, Irish folk song that gives “Wild Mountain Thyme” its title.
And it’s in moments like this, when the film settles down and stops trying so hard to please us, that it actually connects. The most effective scene in the whole film is an understated one that takes place in Rosemary’s kitchen, when she and Anthony begin to get honest with one another while trapped inside during a storm. There’s genuine emotion and tension mixed in between the laughs in this climactic, claustrophobic conversation. And because Blunt and Dornan’s work is so strong here, you’re likely to forget that their accents are so weak.
But alas, it’s a mere glimmer in the eye. Because Shanley ultimately reveals the real reason Anthony and Rosemary have been apart all these years, sending the film off the rails and beyond those scenic, winding roads and rolling hills. This piece of information is so bizarre, it truly puts the “wild” in “Wild Mountain Thyme.”
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