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Non-Review Review: Wild Mountain Thyme

“Welcome,” narrates Christopher Walken in the opening moments of Wild Mountain Thyme. “Welcome to Ireland. My name’s Tony Reilly. And I’m dead.”

Even before it as released, Wild Mountain Thyme had positioned itself as a viable candidate for the “best bad movie of 2020”, a title that merits some distinction from actually and actively bad movies like Artemis Fowl or Songbird. There is something inherently performative about the idea of “best bad movies”, which requires them to be inherently entertaining in decidedly unconventional ways. Of course, Cats is perhaps the great example of this is recent memory, a terrible movie that has been swiftly reclaimed as a cult classic.

Fifty shade of green.

The premiere of the trailer for Wild Mountain Thyme immediately grabbed the internet’s attention, as did news about the plot of the play from which writer and director John Patrick Shanley was drawing. There was something about the combination of factors at play: the terrible accents, the twee portrayal of rural Ireland obviously written from an outsider’s perspective, Shanley’s interview comments about the Irish, and rumours about an insane third act twist. There was some anticipation that this could be an equivalent to something like Steven Knight’s Serenity.

Of course, the truth is that competing at this level, drawing that sort of interest and fascination, requires a certain spark. For all the problems with Serenity, it was not a film that lacked for ambition. Knight followed his impulses unwaiveringly and unquestioningly, and there’s something intoxicating in watching a film steer itself so confidently towards a premise so completely insane, with no real idea of how to execute the twists that it wants to employ. Sadly, Wild Mountain Thyme lacks that energy and vigour. Indeed, the worst thing about it is how dull it is.

Making a splash.

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