WILD MOUNTAIN THYME – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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When the trailer for Wild Mountain Thyme first landed, Irish folk grabbed their verbal shalaylees and cried foul over what they condemned as dodgy Emerald Isle accents and corny “Erin Go Bragh” clichés. Having now seen the film myself, those impressions aren’t totally wrong.

That said, it isn’t a half-bad thing to sit back and watch that hunk of manhood known as Jamie Dornan – best known as S&M specialist Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades franchise — act like a twitchy, tongue-tied farm boy next door named Anthony who has been mooning over his farm girl neighbor Rosemary (Emily Blunt) for years without ever openly declaring his feelings for her. She, meanwhile, has a yearning for dancing like the White Swan in the ballet Swan Lake and hides in trees to spy on her beloved.

OK, Dornan was born in Northern Ireland, so he lends a wee bit of legitimacy to the goings-on that were shot among the strikingly verdant and perpetually damp landscapes found in County Mayo. His dad is played by Christopher Walken, whose accent wavers more than a bit. But at least Blunt’s mum is played by Dearbhla Molloy, who is as Irish as they come.

A pseudo rival arrives in the form of Adam, Anthony’s American cousin played by John Hamm as a rich entrepreneur, the type who rents a Rolls-Royce just because he can. He is flirting with the idea of buying the family farm and he also has eyes for Rosemary as well. She takes a one-day trip to New York City to see Swan Lake performed and test her feelings for Adam. As for Anthony, he briefly gets cozy with a less intimidating bar fly named Fiona.

Given that the film is directed and written by John Patrick Shanley, who won an Oscar for his script for the 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck, surely someone on screen could have taken a cue from that classic and told these two kooky adults who have known since they were kids that they were destined for each other to simply “snap out of it.” Eventually they do, over bottled Guinness and in the midst of a raging rain storm, but it takes an entire film to finally get to that point.

Shanley based the movie on his 2014 Tony-nominated play Outside Mullingar, which starred Debra Messing in her Broadway debut. Without the atmospheric setting, I can’t imagine what the stage production must have been like. Fans of Dornan and Blunt might get some satisfaction in seeing them share the screen. But perhaps some Guinness might make it go down better.

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.