Amid lush hills and crumbling stone abbeys, the Irish seaside town of Cobh plays host to an annual literary festival. Widowed woodwork teacher Michael Farr (Ciarán Hinds) has been adjusting to his new role as the sole caretaker of his two young kids, but finds himself increasingly frightened by nightmares that are starting to spill into his waking hours. As a regular volunteer for the festival, chance finds him a driver for supernatural-fiction writer Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle). But Michael has to compete for her attention with internationally acclaimed author Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn), who wants to pick up on the brief affair he had with Lena. All three are forced to deal with their own ghosts over the course of the weekend.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Ghosts and nightmares haunt the edges of this inconclusive story that combines supernatural elements with the eternal human triangle. Ciarán Hinds is excellent in the role of the widowed dad, Michael, never overdoing the clumsy male nor the awakening romantic when he meets the novelist Lena Morelle, a specialist in supernatural stories. Lena is played by the Danish actress Iben Hjelje, and delivers a marvellously real and likeable character.
Perhaps the one false note is Aidan Quinn's Nicholas Holden, a self-important writer whose brief fling with Lena some time ago gives him licence, he feels, to pursue her again. He is written as a caricature of a jerk and plays him like one. But he gets his desserts ...
The screenplay is adapted from a book and it's hard to know how much of the supernatural elements have been dropped - but it plays as if some key aspects are missing, since the film doesn't do justice to Michael's nightmares, nor explains Lena's fear of ghosts. But on the plus side, their gradual bonding is effectively written and portrayed, and the intermittent tension generated by the sexual tension in the triangle Nicholas manufactures helps add texture to the film.
The town of Cobh comes out beautifully, with dramatic seascapes and landscapes, a charming port and enough cultural interest to host an annual literary festival. The film doesn't give us much on the festival itself, using it as a mere backdrop for its characters. A modest but likeable film, it will reward the patient, with its ethereal vocals-driven score by Fionnuala Ni Chiosain, an interesting multi-skilled artists who often collaborates musically with the film's director, Conor McPherson.
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ECLIPSE, THE (M)
CAST: Ciarán Hinds, Iben Hjejle, Aidan Quinn, Dorothy Cotter, Eanna Hardwicke, Hannah Lynch
PRODUCER: Robert Walpole
DIRECTOR: Conor McPherson
SCRIPT: Conor McPherson (Tales from Rainwater Pond by Billy Roche)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ivan McCullough
EDITOR: Emer Reynolds
MUSIC: Fionnuala Ni Chiosain
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Geraghty
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Jump Street Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 15, 2010