I am a big fan of the legendary, romantic and mystic Irish singer Van Morrison. I remember a quote from one of his early songs in his trademark staccato language, ‘to love the love that loves to love’. It sounds ridiculous but when Van Morrison, with that great soulful voice sings it, it sounds like some mystical chant. The relevance of this will come later.
I am a big fan too of the work of New York writer John Patrick Shanley, lauded as ‘‘The Bard Of The Bronx’.
I know his work mostly as a playwright – works that include ‘Danny and The Deep Blue Sea’, ‘The Big Funk’, ‘The Dreamer Examines His Pillow’, and ‘Doubt : A Parable’.
‘Danny and The Deep Blue Sea’, in particular, has been a favourite of independent theatre companies. The play is a searing study of two lonely society outcasts who meet in a bar in the Bronx in New York and find connection and solace in each other. I lost count of how many times I have seen this play performed around Sydney.
More than a few times, Shanley has taken one of his plays, adapted it for the screen, and got behind the camera to direct it. Most notably was in 2008 with the film ‘Doubt’, taken from his play ‘Doubt : A Parable’, starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. About a priest who is accused of sexual wrongdoing with a minor, ‘Doubt’ was nominated for numerous Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Shanley.
Now there is the film WILD MOUNTAIN THYME adapted from his play ‘Outside Mullinger’. The film is set in the lush countryside of Ireland. Shanley has written that his roots go back to Ireland. The film’s title refers to one of Ireland’s most famous and stirring folk songs which is used poignantly as the film’s theme song.
Headstrong farmer Rosemary Muldoon (Emily Blunt) has her heart set on winning her shy, meek farmer neighbour Anthony Reilly’s love. The problem is Anthony (Jamie Dornan) seems to have inherited a family curse, and remains oblivious to his beautiful admirer. Stung by his father Tony’s (Christopher Walken) plans to sell the family farm to his American nephew (Jon Hamm), Anthony is jolted out of his passivity.
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME is a touching, beguiling, beautifully shot (cinematography Stephen Goldblatt) movie showcasing two quality performances by Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan playing its oddball central characters.
The movie brought to mind that famous quote by American psychiatrist Dr Gerald G Jampolsky, ‘love is the letting go of fear’. For Anthony, the fear is enormous, but Rosemary is one dedicated, intense woman determined to break down the barricade built around him.
Back to Van, ‘To love the love that loves to love’, If you are in the mood for a romantic movie try WILD MOUNTAIN THYME. John Patrick Shanley’s film is screening in cinemas now.