Monday, April 19, 2010

The Eclipse

The fantastic Irish flick, The Eclipse, probably won't hang around long in theatres. See it while you can. My review is in this week's WE.


Starring Ciarán Hinds, Iben Hjejle, Aidan Quinn
Directed by Conor McPherson

Of late, international indie films have ignored traditional movie classifications (i.e. action, romance, fantasy), opting instead for genre cross-pollination. Nuanced fare like Sweden’s Let the Right One In (coming-of-age vampire horror) and Mexico’s Silent Light (art-house drama with a dash of fantasy) were part of the first wave. The Eclipse, an Irish offering, is a remarkable addition to the emerging trend.

Michael (character actor Ciarán Hinds filling every inch of his new leading-man status) is a woodshop teacher struggling to raise his two young children following his wife’s death from cancer. His mundane life is turned upside down by recurrent ghostly apparitions of his father-in-law who, curiously, is very much alive and tucked away in a local rest home.

Tormented, Michael decides to escape and live out his frustrated author dreams by volunteering for his town’s writers festival. He meets Lena (Iben Hjejle), a horror author who writes about ghosts, and the two fumble towards a tentative relationship, much to the chagrin of Nicholas (Aidan Quinn), a married, arrogant, best-selling author who fell in love with Lena following a one-night stand.

Everyone in The Eclipse is coping with some form of loss, fear, or grief, and the film’s subtle genius is the ways in which those emotions manifest themselves: a terrifying nightmare; a rambling phone message; old, sad, pink eyes brimming with tears. The film flits nicely between character study and thriller, with enough dashes of horror to elicit a steady tension. The film’s emotional, tear-jerking climax — and resulting catharsis — prove reality is sometimes what haunts us most. —Andrea Warner

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