This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
The trailer for Wild Mountain Thyme incited somewhat of a national emergency in the great country of Ireland.
Even the teaser for the romantic dramedy, out this weekend, couldn’t disguise that the cast’s attempts at Irish accents had escaped the pen and roamed freely out in the pasture. To be fair, it’s a tricky one, that lilting manner of speech. Yet also, the film’s male lead, Jamie Dornan, is an actual Irish man, and he fared no better than his co-stars Emily Blunt and Christopher Walken.
The mocking was all in fun, but became such a fascination that the Dublin Airport tweeted about it and the Irish embassy in Washington was compelled to release a statement about it. The National Leprechaun Museum of Ireland also weighed in: “Even we think this is a bit much.”
I found out about the brogue brouhaha when an article on the website Irish Central made its way onto my Twitter feed, explaining, “This one has everything Oirish. It's set on a farm, of course, because that's where all us Irish live. There's the fiery girl with the flaming red hair, the shy young farmer who talks to his donkey, the mad locals, the row about the land, horses, and cows, the 40 shades of green countryside, and loads of bejapers and begorrahs.”
That is to say, the more I read about the film—colleagues of mine had trouble collecting the debris after their minds exploded from watching it—the more desperate I became to see it. And it is very important to me that the publicists I contacted repeatedly in a panic to see it as soon as possible know how much I enjoyed every single second of watching it.
The movie is baffling, to the point that you often wonder if it’s playing a trick on you. Or if there’s a deeper layer that you’re either missing or about to uncover, that what you’re watching can’t really be it just at face value. But that’s the beauty of it. It is it. It’s wild. It’s Wild Mountain Thyme.
It’s written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, which is important because he also wrote Moonstruck, not only what might be a perfect movie but one that I feel called to watch at this time every year.
It feels like a wool scarf in a winter chill, lulling you into the comfort of a world that feels ordinarily like your own, yet whisking you off into the fairy tale of unexpected romantic possibility. Wild Mountain Thyme swaps that red-wine coziness for a tall Guinness and then gets positively shitfaced on it.
Dornan is Anthony and Blunt is Rosemary. They’ve been star-crossed lovers since they were just 10. But decades later, they’re still not together, for reasons that mystify both Rosemary and the audience.
Despite the film’s title seeming as if it’s from a fictional rom-com in a Tina Fey series, it’s actually a stirring line from a traditional Irish song that makes me cry a little if I’m in the right mood and on the right number of drinks at an Irish pub.
You’ll immediately think of Leap Year, the cringey Amy Adams romantic comedy set in Ireland, or P.S. I Love You, the cringey romantic drama set in Ireland. I don’t know why Irish rom-coms are as a rule ridiculous. Despite our penchant for alcoholism, extreme emotional volatility, and soft teeth, we’re a nice people, both quite romantic and quite comedic.
None of this should be taken as direct criticism. On the contrary, it’s praise. It was a delight to be befuddled for one hour and 45 minutes, deliriously entertained despite being almost instantly rendered dumbstruck.
Every line is delivered with signature Irish apathy. Everything from a proposal of marriage to whether someone wants another bowl of stew is shrugged out in a brogue, a monotone that somehow, as any Irish person knows, births seemingly random geysers of pathos. Any shoot-the-breeze conversation is capable of being interrupted by sudden fits of crying or screaming out of nowhere.
All of this works (sort of) in Wild Mountain Thyme because the film doesn’t seem to have an ounce of a sense of humor about itself. That allows the dialogue’s lunacy to be hilarious in spite of itself, but also allows scenes like Emily Blunt singing “will ye go, lassie, go…” in honor of a dead friend at a pub as Christopher Walken weeps to be epically beautiful.
If there’s one thing the Irish love, it’s love. There’s something almost moving about the sober tone of this approach: a film about the kaleidoscope of emotion told entirely in grayscale.
Every once in a while there’s a movie like this I can’t exactly recommend, but must insist that everyone I know see it. It is so enjoyable.
There’s both too much to talk about when it comes to Wild Mountain Thyme that risks spoiling things, but also the fact that almost nothing happens that would be worthy of being branded a spoiler. So I will keep mum on everything else, other than to say I think you should watch.