When good directors make bad films, it’s not that we’re mad. Reviewers like me, well, we’re just disappointed. We expected better.
In the case of Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley’s new Irish romance Wild Mountain Thyme, it just never comes together, even though it seems he’s spent a hell of a lot of time finding the right ingredients.
Shanley – writer of Moonstruck and Alive – hasn’t directed a movie since 2008 Oscar favourite Doubt, and if it took him 12 years to come up with a film as one-note as Thyme, I want him to wait even longer before he releases his next film, if it will help his process.
Thyme, adapted from the play Outside Mullingar, is about to star-crossed lovers whose parents own neighbouring farmland.
I swear, I’m with Shanley. This should work. It has a cute, interesting plot, some fantastic actors, and a gorgeous setting. And yet, like similarly out-of-place Elizabethtown from legendary director Cameron Crowe, the cute scenes come off awkward, the chemistry is off, and the tone never quite reaches equilibrium.
Jamie Dornan has more than proven at this point he deserved better than Fifty Shades Of Grey, but his performance feels stifled here, and in large part it’s because the writing makes his character do illogical things.
Emily Blunt is a treasure, but in no way is her character a strong female role model. She lies in wait, like an old-time Disney princess, hoping Dornan’s prince will make a move. This is 2020 — why doesn’t she just go after what she wants?
For someone who starred in Mad Men, Baby Driver and The Town, Jon Hamm shows next to no charisma here, and this is the first time he’s ever been boring. With a strangely annoying Irish accent, Christopher Walken is the most fun of the bunch, but he can’t keep things on the straight-and-narrow.
I’m not even going to get into the ending, which makes less sense than anything I’ve seen on-screen in recent memory.
In other hands, this could have been an absolute triumph. I have no doubt Shanley has more great films in him. I just wish Shanley spent more quality time making sure Wild Mountain Thyme made one lick of realistic sense.