John Patrick Shanley’s third directorial effort in 30 years, Wild Mountain Thyme, arrives on a barebones DVD from Universal.
The Production: 4/5
Based on his own play Outside Mullingar, writer-director John Patrick Shanley’s Wild Mountain Thyme is a film that was, perhaps, misunderstood by critics during its initial release just two months ago, much like his earlier film Joe vs the Volcano (a personal favorite of mine). Anthony (Jamie Dornan) and Rosemary (Emily Blunt) grew up together on adjacent farms in rural Ireland, and despite an obvious attraction between the two, have remained single their entire lives. Anthony’s father, Tony (Christopher Walken), wants to leave the farm to his only son, preferably on the condition that he first be married and have kids. When Tony tries to have his wealthy American nephew Adam (Jon Hamm) take an interest in purchasing the farm from him, Anthony tries to muster up the courage to propose to Rosemary, but in doing so misplaces his mother’s wedding ring. Thus begins the dance and love triangle (of sorts) between these three as Anthony spends most of his time trying to find the ring in his fields with a metal detector while Rosemary becomes impatient, fleeing to New York to see a ballet with Adam, further complicating matters.
Wild Mountain Thyme is by no means a perfect film, and while some may complain about the Irish accents not being authentic or the mystery of what is keeping these two star-crossed lovers apart never being fully revealed, the movie is still very entertaining. I found the performances delightful, even Christopher Walken who at first feels a bit miscast but quickly brings a great deal of charm to his role.
3D Rating: NA
Universal has opted to release Wild Mountain Thyme on DVD and HD digital only, forgoing a physical Blu-ray release. That is a shame, because Stephen Goldblatt’s cinematography of the lush Irish locations suffers dramatically on standard definition DVD, with its lower resolution and limited color space. That is not to say it is unwatchable on DVD, but there is a noticeable overall softness to the image and the green fields never truly pop. There is also some noticeable crushed blacks in many of the darker scenes, particularly in Emily Blunt’s first scene of her smoking a pipe just outside Anthony and Tony’s farmhouse in the pouring rain.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very good, providing a nice wide soundstage with music and atmospheric effects spread out to the surrounds. LFE is rarely used except to assist in giving the track a more rounded low end. Dialogue is clear and understandable (even with the Irish accents) throughout.
Special Features: 0/5
This is a barebones DVD release, not even trailers for upcoming films have been included.
I really enjoyed Wild Mountain Thyme, but possibly, like John Patrick Shanley’s debut feature Joe vs the Volcano, this movie may be an acquired taste. Personally, I’d recommend the digital HD release over the DVD for Stephen Goldblatt’s lush cinematography alone.
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