It takes a robust imagination to match the role of a dairy farmer in the picturebook west of Ireland with the star presence of Christopher Walken. Yet there he is, leading man of The Dead Zone, secret weapon of Pulp Fiction, now sitting fireside in romantic comedy (I think) Wild Mountain Thyme. His delivery is all you would expect. His vowels are manic. The film is so bizarre that becomes the least of it. “I’m Tony Reilly,” Walken begins in voiceover. “I’m dead.” And we’re off.
So begins a tale of two farms and two families. One are the Reillys, Tony’s oddball son Anthony played by Jamie Dornan. Across the fields are the Muldoons, daughter Rosemary played by Emily Blunt, smoking a pipe and unleashing another accent with which to cause a diplomatic incident. Rosemary is and always has been in love with Anthony, one more take-it-on-trust detail given the unworldly nature of the younger Reilly.
The film is adapted and directed by John Patrick Shanley from his play Outside Mullingar. Given Shanley’s pedigree — a Pulitzer for Doubt, an Oscar for Moonstruck — you might assume a certain knowingness. What the film thinks it knows is anyone’s guess, the whole thing stuffed with parodic bumpkinry.
One sub-plot involves marriage to a donkey, another a slick American cousin, played by Jon Hamm as if Mad Men’s Don Draper had been Photoshopped in amid the cowsheds. Sometimes a star rating seems besides the point. Call it: !!
On digital platforms in the UK from April 30