Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: The Eclipse

For the majority of this movie, I wasn't sure where "The Eclipse" was going. And even after watching it, I'm not sure what it was supposed to be. Was it a ghost story? A love story? A character drama? A thriller?

But as the movie progressed, I found that I didn't really much care, because I began to feel like I was actually reading a novel, getting lost in the characters, their stories and the gorgeous setting where it all took place.

It centers around a widower named Michael Farr (Ciaran Hinds), who lives in the picturesque seaside town of Cobh, Ireland, and is still grieving the loss of his wife and experiencing disturbing supernatural events in the process. He volunteers at a literary festival in town, where his path crosses with two authors: Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle), an English woman who writes sensitive books dealing with ghosts, and Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn), a famous and pompous American novelist.

There's pretty much something for everyone in this, but if you're looking for a straight-up supernatural thriller, you're going to be disappointed. It's a very tough movie to describe, and sometimes feels unnecessarily confusing, but I enjoyed it for its thoughtfulness and quiet manner.

I loved the stunning, panoramic views of Cobh, and have decided to go there someday. It felt cold, gray, rainy -- there were scenic drives, a looming, magnificent cathedral that consistently makes its presence felt, secluded cabins overlooking the ocean, hotel bars ... there were walks with hot coffee and deep conversations.

Ciaran Hinds and Iben Hjejle (Magnolia Pictures)
I also gradually developed a crush on Lena -- or maybe it was Iben, who I actually didn't recognize from "High Fidelity." She was perfectly cast here, and played it very dignified and cool with an underlying sense of vulnerability. I also loved Quinn, who was seemingly cast against type as an overtly arrogant and selfish boob, and it was very entertaining to watch him in that skin.

What I may have enjoyed most, though, was the soundtrack, which I was surprised to learn was written by director Conor McPherson and his wife. Like the movie, it varies greatly -- from soft and haunting to light and peppy piano, to absolutely beautiful choral pieces.

Featured here are The Mornington Singers, a Dublin Chamber Choir, who perform the Kyrie theme that plays throughout. You can listen to a short interview with McPherson and the piece that is played at their website, or by clicking here (you will need RealPlayer).

As McPherson discusses his thoughts about the music, he makes an awesome reference to "The Deer Hunter," one of my absolute favorite movies, in which he compares the choral piece here to those accompanying Robert De Niro's character while he is hunting in the mountains.

Ciaran Hinds (Magnolia Pictures)
But rest assured, if you're looking for thrills and chills, you will get them. There were scenes in here that literally made me yell out loud, because I was taken completely by surprise. And, frankly, a few of them are scary as hell ... albeit a tad perplexing.

But if you find yourself confused by the story, I'd say not to worry and enjoy the journey. I can't give too much away, but there's an incredibly emotional and cathartic scene near the end that was staged absolutely perfectly. And judging by the fact my face went all numb and my eyes started to water (not crying, I held it together!) the ol' ticker sped up and I had chills going up my spine, it was one of the more evocative and beautifully done scenes I've seen in a while.

So don't worry too much about what genre this movie fits in. For me, it can be boiled down to a simple story about overcoming grief and connecting with people as our paths intertwine. And I think this is a universal sentiment that can be appreciated by anyone, no matter how you want to label this movie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thuc, can we trade links?