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Movie Review: The Eclipse

By Philip Martin

This article was published April 30, 2010 at 2:26 a.m.

— The Eclipse is an enjoyable minor-key Irish romance enlivened by excellent performances - including a wonderfully observed turn by Aidan Quinn as an insufferably boorish American typer of best-sellers - but marred by the occasional intrusion of a bad horror movie on the proceedings.

In its defense, let’s stipulate that these moments of sudden spookiness can be dismissed in context, and it’s possible to take them as manifestations of a bereaved man’s guilty imagination. Still, even if they don’t scare you out of your wits, they do knock you out of the movie for a moment or two.

Still, though these literalminded scenes fail, it’s not hard to see what director Conor McPherson intended. And the supernatural stuff even works well in the beginning, when the recently widowed Michael Farr (Ciaran Hinds) first encounters what seems to be the ghost ofhis still-living father-in-law skittering through his parlor in the middle of the night.

Michael is a recently widowed father of two who works as a woodshop teacher and who long ago channeled his literary aspirations into practical volunteerism. He’s one of the mainstays behind the Cobh Literary Festival, held yearly in the remarkably beautiful island town off Ireland’s southern coast.

The star of this year’s festival is Nicholas Holden (Quinn), a vain and stupid superstar who is carrying a torch for Lena More (Iben Hjejle, the Danish star who played John Cusack’s girlfriend in High Fidelity a decade ago). London-based Lena pens gothic ghost stories and doesn’t share Nicholas’ giddy view of their history together, which consists of a drunken one-night stand in which he liedabout his marital status.

Still, Nicholas is undeterred in his pursuit of Lena, and Michael ends up in the middle. His kind face and stolid, gentle bearing contrast with Nicholas’ preening egoism.

McPherson is an acclaimed playwright and theater director. As such, maybe it’s understandable that he’s not yet a very cinematic director - although there are some lovely individual shots, not to mention stunning locations - and the movie is best when it devolves to dialogue. Which is to say the movie is better written - and better acted - than it is realized.

MovieStyle, Pages 38 on 04/30/2010

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