Spling reviews Wild Mountain Thyme, The Last Shift and The Weight of Gold as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about a romantic comedy, a coming-of-age comedy drama and an Olympic documentary.
Starting off with a film now on Labia Home Screen…
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME
A pair of star-crossed lovers in Ireland get caught up in their family’s land dispute.
Writer-Director: John Patrick Shanley
Stars: Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan and Christopher Walken
– This romantic comedy is based on the play Outside Mullingar and has a stellar cast with Emily Blunt and Christopher Walken leaning into their Irish-ish accents and spirited performances.
– There probably isn’t another film that has tried harder to be Irish than Wild Mountain Thyme under the direction of Moonstruck and Doubt’s John Patrick Shanley.
– Rolling green pastures, thick accents, clichéd expressions and a tale about love and luck, at times it sounds as though characters are speaking in limericks.
– This overblown and distinctly Irish film comes across like an advert rather than offering an authentic immersion into the wonder and pluck of Ireland.
– As accomplished as Blunt and Walken are, they do seem out of place, trying to excuse their inclusion with defiant turns.
– Struggling to ground itself, it’s also undermined by an underwhelming co-lead in Dornan whose tarnished screen presence and lack of charm dilutes attempts at on-screen magic.
– It’s a fairly harmless jaunt that will appease lovers of the Shamrock but struggles to intrigue or compel with its scattershot storytelling.
– Verging on ridiculous, Wild Mountain Thyme also features a few touching moments amid the confusion.
– Some of the lines have zip and it’s fun to tour Irish pastoral culture but Wild Mountain Thyme ultimately overplays its hand with dodgy accents, diminishing returns and muddled plotting… making you wonder what went wrong?
A flimsy 4 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film on Netflix…
THE LAST SHIFT
Stanley’s last shift at his fast food job takes an unexpected turn.
Writer-Director: Andrew Cohn
Stars: Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie and Da’Vine Joy Randolph
– This slice-of-life comedy drama and mismatched buddy movie focusses on two men struggling to come to terms with their lot in life.
– Centred at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish regional fast food chain, a trainee and long-serving employee’s paths cross only for them to discover an unusual bond.
– While deliberately slow-moving, the mundane and ordinary take on a solemn kitchen sink majesty as the late night takeaway joint becomes their universe.
– Laden with contrasts, featuring an odd couple to echo The Intouchables, it’s more melancholic than exuberant as we journey with each character as one serves out his community service and the other tries to bow out gracefully.
– While Alexander Payne would have been better suited in the director’s chair, his producer credit speaks to the nature of this low-key character study.
– It’s not as whimsical or delightful as About Schmidt but tends toward a similar sense of reckless humour.
– Jenkins was a force in The Visitor, immersing himself in this role with weedy humility and by-the-book candour.
– Starring opposite him is the promising McGhie, who captures some of the angst of a young father trying to get his life back on track.
– A lightweight and amusing distraction, it’s a gentle and well-acted coming-of-age drama with rich comedic notes that will provoke thought but probably won’t linger.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a film on Showmax…
THE WEIGHT OF GOLD
A look at the mental health challenges Olympic athletes often face.
Director: Brett Rapkin
Features: Michael Phelps, Shaun White and Lolo Jones
– Now with the Olympic Games in full swing after being postponed for the first time in its 125 year history, this timely documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the real sacrifice and psychological toll of dedicating your life to a sport.
– Michael Phelps has 28 medals making him the most decorated Olympian of all-time who first competed in the 2000 Olympics at the age of 15.
– A natural born winner, there’s a tremendous amount of pressure being asked to perform at such a high level for so long in the perpetual pursuit of gold.
– The image management behind go-getting Americans who attain gold medals at the Olympics would have you believe they’re indomitable.
– Yet, the truth is much darker as this eye-opening documentary comes to terms with some of the realities of becoming so famous, focused and goal-orientated.
– This important documentary goes even deeper to examine the effects of sacrificing decades of your life to a core focus only to realise you haven’t lived.
– Starting with a trigger warning, The Weight of Gold goes to some uncomfortable places – discussing depression and suicidal thoughts.
– Gathering interviews from a range of Summer to Winter games contestants, the focus is purely American, but will send shockwaves to the rest of the Olympic community.
– While it could have had a wider array of interviewees, possibly from athletes in other countries as a contrast, it serves its purpose well.
– Hopefully it will create awareness and encourage others to seek help in this age of widespread mental duress.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME… strange casting, scattershot storytelling and Irish cliches undermine authenticity in this underwhelming romantic comedy… A flimsy 4!
THE LAST SHIFT… solid performances elevate this mostly gentle, thoughtful, unassuming and wry slice-of-life comedy drama… A satisfactory 6!
THE WEIGHT OF GOLD… an eye-opening examination of the mental health and gold medal pressures experienced by US Olympians… A solid 7!
For more movie reviews, previous Talking Movies podcasts and upcoming Bingeing with Spling watch parties visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!