Ireland is a country known for its gorgeous views and friendly people, so it is no wonder that movies such as Star Wars, Braveheart, Harry Potter, and The Princess Bride made use of it. For some reason, though, when you have any type of Hollywood movie that is set in Ireland it somehow manages to miss the mark on how to portray the country and its people correctly.
There aren’t many people who haven’t seen the Wild Mountain Thyme movie trailer that came out just over a week ago. It boasts famous actors such as Emily Blunt, Christopher Walken, Jon Hamm, and even Ireland’s own, Jamie Dornan. The film was written and directed by John Patrick Shanley. He based it on his play Outside Mullingar. Since the release of the trailer, there has been no shortage of complaints along with amusement from Irish people. It’s important to note that John Patrick Shanley is an Irish-American. The market for selling “Oirland” in the USA is huge and would be the primary viewers rather than the Irish themselves.
Rosita Boland did a piece in the Irish Times in 2016 where she asked Irish-Americans in Boston for their views on Ireland. She found their views were an ‘abstract romanticised, receptacle of dreams and green fields, and the place that will soothe a lifelong ache.’
There is an attempt for the film to be a romantic comedy set in Ireland but many can’t get past the terrible accent that is in the film. It is even more disappointing when it’s Jamie Dornan, an Irishman, using a terrible version of the accent. The film’s trailer bears a similarity to Foil, Arms, and Hog’s sketch done in 2015 of ‘A very Irish Film’, that depicted a large number of scenery shots, along with the characters being from rural Ireland.
While you might think that this is a film that is set in the 19th century, it sadly looks to be a modern piece as Emily Blunt’s character makes a comment about freezing her eggs if she is unable to get married soon.
Wild Mountain Thyme is reminiscent of the Cecelia Ahern novel P.S I Love You, which was a heavily Americanised version of Ireland. The trailer for this movie shows Ireland in a backward, abstract light that represents nothing of the people or the culture of the country at present. This is shown when Jon Hamm’s character states ‘I don’t understand you people. Why do you make everything so hard? You just seem to accept these crazy things’. As if Ireland is extremely backwards and the American was coming in to enlighten them.
The biggest issue with the trailer for many Irish people is the stereotyping of Ireland and the people in it. Ireland is no longer a developing country with little access to the outside world. People no longer live in cottages and only buy produce from the farmers market, and it is not just small villages with one shop and a pub. According to the United Nations Developmental Report 2019 Statistical Update, Ireland is number three in HDI ranking.
You can claim artistic licence with films such as these but the frustration of the Irish people comes from it being similar in all Hollywood films that show Ireland in any way. As if it is a mystical country full of people living a simple lifestyle and drinking Guinness. There have been many reactions to the accent itself, including the director, who leapt to the defence of the accent in The Times stating ‘How can you make a judgement on someone’s tone in a trailer? It’s taken out of context. In a film trailer, you will get different accents because that’s the mood of a particular line. But if you listen for the entire film it will settle, and be different. It was the same in the play.’
Just so everyone knows, the film’s accent is based on Deborah Messing’s accent in the play, which might actually be worse than the film. In fairness to Messing, she does say that the accent is a tough one, which is true.
Unfortunately for Shanley, there is no need for context when looking at the clear views of Ireland that is shown within just a two-minute trailer, along with the awful accent. The Leprechaun Museum in Dublin tweeted ‘Even we think it’s a bit much.’ I don’t think it needs to be said but I’ll say it anyway, if a leprechaun museum in Ireland that makes their sales on tourists is saying that it’s bad, then it’s bad.
Overall the trailer was so badly received because it is selling a depiction of Ireland that just isn’t true. It perpetuates the Irish stereotype of the ‘simple Irishman’ and does not bring actual Irish culture to the forefront. It might have come off a bit better if they used a full Irish cast, or even consulted a single Irish person in the process. I will leave you with this tweet from Dara Ó Briain, an Irish comedian. ‘For the record, I could only manage half of the Wild Mountain Thyme trailer. I have put the rest of it back in the fridge for later, where it will stay untouched until I eventually throw it out in a month.’
More like this: