John Patrick Shanley’s Wild Mountain Thyme is a genuine rarity. After film curiosities such as “The Room” – productions that were able to achieve cult status due to their unintentional badness – this Irish romantic comedy with a presentable star cast could follow in similar footsteps. In our review, we reveal why you have to see the movie to believe it exists.
OT: Wilde Mountain Thyme (IE/UK 2020)
The Plot Summary
Headstrong farmer Rosemary (Emily Blunt) has set her mind on winning the heart of her eccentric neighbor Anthony (Jamie Dornan). However, he seems to have other things on his mind and is completely oblivious to the advances of his beautiful admirer. He spends most of his time with his father Tony (Christopher Walken), whose ungracious plan is to sell the family farm to his American nephew Adam (Jon Hamm). But what is to become of Anthony? It’s time for the loner to decide how and with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life…
Wild Mountain Thyme Movie Meaning & ending
The quality spectrum of all the films in the world ranges from abysmally bad to heavenly inspiring. While we are only too happy to remember the things that made us feel great, memories of cinematic pearl barley soon fade; and the label “so bad that it’s good again” can hardly be awarded in today’s well-calculated mainstream cinema anyway. Certainly, film production companies such as Asylum supply the film market every year with shoddy copies of big-budget films whose makers are well aware of the non-existent value of their dubious works and thus serve either the target group of the unsuspecting (who actually wanted to see the “original”) or the crap consumer. Of course, with the right people (and the right alcohol level), it can be fun to make fun of the non-existent qualities of a movie – but if that’s exactly what the creatives intended, this calculation takes away the charm of the whole thing. But what to do when honestly failed film projects – and not just those that were shot to fail – often never make it to the market these days because there is no way through for them in today’s tightly structured film machinery? A work of art that has long since become a cult favorite, such as Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room”, would probably have an even harder time today than it did back then.
Whether John Patrick Shanley’s Irish romcom Wild Mountain Thyme will one day achieve a similarly honorable status as Tommy Wiseau’s heartfelt project is still written in the stars at this point. At this point, however, the rare predicate “so bad that it’s good again” can already be awarded. The extent of this cinematic absurdity begins with a look at the cast: behind the camera – responsible for writing and directing – was John Patrick Shanley, an Oscar winner who was nominated once again after his award for “Moonstruck” in 1988 (2009 for “Question of Faith”). For the screen adaptation of his stage play “Outside Mullingar”, he assembled an ensemble that could hardly be more renowned. At the center of the plot are Hollywood star Emily Blunt (“A Quiet Place”) and “Fifty Shades of Grey” beau Jamie Dornan, while Jon Hamm (“Catch Me!”) and Christopher Walken (“Eddie the Eagle: Anything is Possible”) play not insignificant supporting roles. With this constellation, Wild Mountain Thyme has a lot to live up to. From a kitschy “Rosamunde Pilcher” crossover, which the first indulgent tracking shots over the rugged Irish coastline and the lush green pastures suggest, to a brittle family drama, when the first moments of the dialog are equally tantamount to a cuckoo child story and a heated inheritance dispute. And last but not least, there’s Emily Blunt’s Rosemary and Jamie Dornan’s Anthony, who a prologue from their childhood days declares to be the two most important characters right from the start – and who are allowed to gaze into each other’s eyes in love on the movie poster. The creative narrative possibilities of Wild Mountain Thyme are immense – and yet John Patrick Shanley succeeds in taking all premonitions ad absurdum with remarkable stubbornness. And that is by no means to be taken positively.
“Whether John Patrick Shanley’s Irish romcom Wild Mountain Thyme will one day achieve a similarly honorable status as Tommy Wiseau’s heartfelt project is still written in the stars at this point. However, the rare predicate “so bad that it’s good again” can already be awarded at this point.”
In Wild Mountain Thyme, you soon no longer know where all this is going to end up. What sounds promisingly unpredictable in pretty much every other film is in this case due to the completely hare-brained sequence of confused scenes with even more confused dialogues, performed by barely recognizable Hollywood greats. While at first it seems as if John Patrick Shanley’s is merely getting bogged down in the exposition, because he mentions so many names, conflicts and themes (at least without a staged explanatory monologue) that even after just under half an hour you still don’t know who is who here, stress with whom and what the focus of this story is supposed to be, the suspicion creeps up on you more and more with every minute that Wild Mountain Thyme is simply letting every staging element of a film production run blindly at a gallop, completely free of anything as banal as a concept, a dramaturgy or – God forbid! – a logic. While the first half is dominated by arguments about the land and the question of what should happen if the owners die, which are presented at breakneck speed, it eventually becomes clear from the muddle (presented in the original with a terrible Irish accent) that this is actually supposed to be about the love story between Rosemary and Anthony. When the credits finally roll after almost 100 minutes, you finally know that it really was. Until shortly before the end, however, the wild time jumps, scene changes and incoherent dialog make it impossible to even begin to assess the relationship between the two contemporaries. Hardly speaking a single normal word to each other, but always slipping into crazy assumptions and innuendos – as if someone hadn’t translated a foreign language text themselves, but had just run it through Google Translate once – it remains the big mystery of the movie until shortly before the end: what the hell do these two characters want? And even more interesting: What does the filmmaker actually want from his characters, what does he want from us and what is it all about anyway?
While on the one hand Wild Mountain Thyme would have enough down-to-earth conflicts to play out a classic family feud – and with the constant reference to “how oh so crazy the Irish are”, the whole thing could even have been deliberately made comical – John Patrick Shanley indulges in so many sideshows that from the moment Anthony practices a marriage proposal on a donkey and this results in the conflict, which is dealt with in passing like so many other things, but is nevertheless meant seriously (! ) conflict arises, in which parts of the village community accuse the man of zoophilic tendencies. And Wild Mountain Thyme presents all of this in its last half hour at the latest in the form of dialogs which, in their hare-brained stringing together of confused main and subordinate clauses, in which every second is about something different and yet about nothing, at some point just rush over you. In the middle of the most heated argument, sandwiches are suddenly served or the romantic declaration of love is redirected to the qualities of Guinness beer in the next moment. Statements about suicidal thoughts are delivered just as casually as indignation about the fact that it is always raining in Ireland. Or that the sun shines. Or both. In any case, everything is always and everywhere a problem. Or not a problem. In any case, the characters’ demeanor and the content of their words give no indication of any emotional sensitivities. Just like a text translated into another language by Google Translate – but we’ve already made that comparison…
“From the moment when Anthony practices a marriage proposal on a donkey and the conflict arises, which is dealt with in passing like so many other things, but is nevertheless meant seriously (!), that parts of the village community accuse the man of zoophilic tendencies, the film can simply be trusted to do anything.”
However, the extent of the downright bewildering weirdness in Wild Mountain Thyme does not end with the non-quality of the dialog. The actors and actresses also play somewhere between trance-like theatricality and seemingly parodic disinterest – in fact, at some point one wonders whether all of this is meant to be taken seriously at all, or whether it is meant to be understood as poetry. Even if the question remains as to who or what is being commented on here. Another of the countless question marks that Wild Mountain Thyme leaves behind. As do the characters. First and foremost the character of Anthony. The constellation of Jamie Dornan’s caricaturingly clumsy performance, his actions implied as spleens, such as running up and down with a metal detector, which remains uncommented on for a long time, and the dialogues repeatedly give the impression that his character is perhaps mentally retarded. But there are no direct mentions of this. Neither is there any mention of how old Anthony and Rosemary are or what era Wild Mountain Thyme is supposed to be set in. Emily Blunt hardly fares any better. Her character sometimes has delusional traits, but the script also deals with these in passing rather than dealing with them seriously. We see her dancing in the rain, gazing meaningfully into the armory and flying to New York for a day simply because she feels like it. The only one who seems to realize what kind of film he’s playing in is Jon Hamm, who carries the audience’s question marks on his forehead around as if he – like us – didn’t understand the script.
But Wild Mountain Thyme is not only a complete disaster in terms of acting and storytelling. John Patrick Shanley also seems to have thrown everything that even remotely resembles a structure overboard in terms of staging. Scenes break off in the middle of the confrontation, time jumps are not organized but have to be pieced together from the already overly confusing events and every few minutes a completely random (!!) camera shot of an animal or human being falls over or down somewhere. Unfortunately, this visible filler material is too short to take a deep breath and recover from all this madness. But perhaps you have to consciously live through this stupefying frenzy of absurdity, incredulity, entertainment (and yes: Wild Mountain Thyme is so stupid that it actually falls into the category of “so bad it’s good again”) and everything that Shanley intended but couldn’t express. Not in order to understand it, to see through it. But to realize that a film like Wild Mountain Thyme actually exists in the form presented here. You won’t regret it. But you will wonder what the hell you’ve just seen.
Conclusion: Wild Mountain Thyme is a movie curiosity that fails so loudly on all levels that you have to see it to understand it.
Wild Mountain Thyme will be available on VOD from May 21 and on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from May 28.