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