Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review - The Eclipse

An Irish widower named Michael Farr begins experiencing ghostly encounters sometime after his wife's death. Trying to cope with his experiences, Michael begins reading a book that explores similar happenings. A book, that he by chance discovered while working at a local writers festival as the driver for the author of the very same novel. The author and Michael spark a interesting relationship, a relationship that will hopefully give clarity and resolve to Michael's grief and horrific experiences.

Mourning the loss of a spouse has to be complicated. Both the emotional and mental strain must be excruciating. Especially when the couple have undergone a lengthy marriage. Ups and downs, kids, you know the drill. Habits and rituals are formed and seeing those memories vanish can have a dramatic and/or traumatic affect on one's psyche. In Conor McPherson's "The Eclipse," the drama takes direct aim at mourning the loss of a loved one, while flirting with supernatural and romantic story lines.

From the opening shot to closing credits, the drama does a polished job of creating a somber yet uneasy feel. This feeling is matched by riveting cinematography from Ivan McCullough. McCullough, who captured the gorgeous Irish costal town of Cobh, left me dumbfounded by his ability to shield the beauty of Ireland's countryside. Instead his cinematography evokes a tension and fear as the backdrop to the extrasensory tale. McCullough also does a capable job framing the more chilling moments to the film. Especially the perspective of Michael Farr's first supernatural encounter. A scene that seeks to rise a few hairs of the viewer, and with McCullogh's work behind the camera, it does just that.

Unfortunately the drama is far more a love story than a horror. A realization that left me wishing for more scary and less liaison. That said, "The Eclipse" does toe the line with supernatural elements, however a majority of the film is spent coping with Michael's grief. The drama also focuses on a beneficial relationship formed with author Lena Morelle. Farr's relationship with Lena seems to serve two purposes. One, it helps him to understand the nature of his supernatural experiences and two, it allows Michael to move on with the death of his wife. One side of me was intrigued with the relationship that forms between Lena and Michael, however the character development that plays out between them just misses the mark. Again, I just wanted more of the supernatural or grief that Michael experiences.

Ciarán Hinds (Munich), who plays Micahel Farr does an exceptional job with the emotion of the role. The pain and suffering Hinds is able to portray within such a minimalist role is powerful. Hinds furthermore does a stirring job sharing the screen with his co-stars Iben Hjejle (High Fidelity) and Aidan Quinn (Legends of the Fall). Hjejle who plays author Lena Morelle delivers a very rigid portrayal. I was never quite sure of what to make of her. Her scenes with Ciarán Hinds are strong, but much of that can be credited to Hinds' ability to carry her. The same can be said about Hjejle's scenes with Aidan Quinn. Quinn's character Nicholas Holden is written as the weaker character, although on screen, Quinn's performance overwhelms Hjejle.

"The Eclipse" leaves itself open to interpretation. Which can be very easily mistaken as vague. The film is very much a transition piece. Meaning it leaves the viewer with a lot of questions about how we got to where started and what happens after the final frame. Questions that are, in the end, mainly left open to debate. I didn't mind the uncertainty to the story at all, I actually enjoyed it. What I didn't enjoy was the film's inability to retain a lasting impression. For all intents and purposes "The Eclipse" is a stirring drama. What's its not, is a lasting film that will be remembered.