The Wild Mountain Thyme trailer, which was released back in November, is one of the more memorable cultural obscenities lobbed in the direction of this unassuming island in a long time. The film, starring Jamie Dornan, Emily Blunt and Christopher Walken, kicked off a debate on why Hollywood insists on treating Ireland like it is caught in an infinite boggy 1950s time loop.
The man behind the film - writer and director John Patrick Shanley - is not some hack, but has made great movies like 'Moonstruck and 'Joe Versus The Volcano'. He made his first public comments about the movie since the accents controversy took place, and if you found the trailer offensive, you're really not going to like this interview with Variety magazine.
Shanley was not in the mood for apologising:
'I told Emily [Blunt] when we first talked about this project, ‘I’m not making this movie for the Irish. If you try to get the Irish to love you, no good will come of it. I’m making this movie for everybody else and all the people who want to go to Ireland.’ The Irish reaction to things written about Ireland has been tumultuous from the time of John Millington Synge when they disrupted “Playboy of the Western World” because they thought that it was pornographic. Frank McCourt was a friend of mine and he took a lot of guff for ‘Angela’s Ashes.’ You bring up ‘The Quiet Man’ to people there and it’s like Jesus Christ, it’s an abomination. That’s about as much as I can say about it.'
Where to start? Firstly, we think Shanley might be pushing the envelope just slightly by putting himself in the same company of Synge or even 'The Quiet Man'. Also does Shanley, as a filmmaker, not have some responsibility to accurately depict the people and the country he is portraying?
Irish people are so demanding! Wanting to be portrayed realistically not as some kind of 1950's stereotype. It's impossible to please us!! 😆 https://t.co/aws14hdBfv
— Sinéad Lynch (@sineadl11) December 10, 2020
If the film is indeed made for American audiences, it's notable that American critics have been scathing in their reviews. The Vulture review, which calls the film 'utterly batshit' takes the biscuit.
But Wild Mountain Thyme is not just charmless. It is genuinely confounding.
All that said, we look forward to hate-watching WMT on a transatlantic Aer Lingus flight in the covid-free dreamlands of 2021.