During most of the time I was screening writer / director John Patrick Shanley‘s “Wild Mountain Thyme,” I kept thinking to myself that it would be better suited to the stage rather than the screen. Turns out this movie actually is an adaptation of Shanley’s 2014 play, “Outside Mullingar.” That certainly explains a lot, but nothing excuses how a project with such a strong cinematic pedigree could produce a film that totally misses the mark by such a wide margin.
Headstrong farmer Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) has spent a lifetime pining for oblivious neighbor boy Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan). She’s loved him for what feels like forever, and Rosemary has made it her mission to get him to propose. She desperately wants to be married, but Anthony is too focused on his father’s (Christopher Walken) plans to sell the family farm to his American cousin Adam (Jon Hamm). Things get complicated after a kiss between Adam and Rosemary, with everyone searching for love in all the right (and wrong) places.
Very little about this movie worked for me. The performances are too stagey, hindered further by awkward attempts at Irish accents that are difficult to understand. Dornan and Blunt have a horrible chemistry, and even Walken seems unhappy to be there. The script has a very specific type of humor where you can tell it’s supposed to be funny and charming, but it’s not.
A romance needs a spark, and this movie has none. There’s zero connection between Rosemary and Anthony, and they’re extremely unlikable as a couple. Even worse, Shanley’s writing feels dated and sexist, poorly suited for modern day storytelling. It’s uncomfortably off-putting and almost impossible to root for a woman who is so obsessed with being married to a man who probably isn’t right for her anyway.
“Wild Mountain Thyme” is an uneven, disjointed film that’s a huge disappointment because of the amount of talent attached. The film ends with a whimper because it fails to establish an ounce of emotional connection.