[Fresh on DVD] ‘WILD MOUNTAIN THYME’ gets weird, ‘THE CLIMB’ hits friendship with awkward humor

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James Clay // Film Critic

WILD MOUNTAIN THYME

Rated PG-13, 104 minutes.
Director: John Patrick Shanley
Cast: Emily BluntJamie DornanChristopher WalkenJon HammDearbhla MolloyDon WycherleyJon TenneyDanielle RyanLydia McGuinness and Clare Barrett

One of the best modern playwrights, John Patrick Shanley (DOUBT, MOONSTRUCK), has adapted his own play OUTSIDE MULLINGAR with WILD MOUNTAIN THYME. The result is a baffling, if not enchanting, film adaptation that somehow has a lot in common with Jerry Seinfeld. (This will make more sense if you watch the film.)

WILD MOUNTAIN THYME assembled an excellent cast – including Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Christopher Walken, and John Hamm – who were game to chase whimsey and talk in off-kilter Irish accents. At the same time, Shanley plays into every stereotype in the book and fills his frames with near-pornographic visuals of green fields. With just a little Irish rouge thrown into the mix, Walken’s signature halted delivery is an aural treat the world couldn’t have ever imagined. 

The story begins with Anthony (Doran), a strange man approaching his middle ages who’s due to take over his father’s farm (Walken). The issues begin to unravel when his father, Tom O’Reilly, reneges because Anthony is prone to a bachelor lifestyle. Tom wants to keep the land in the family.

Enter Adam (Hamm), a flashy American horse’s arse who prefers to talk about owning land rather than putting in the work to maintain the property. Waiting in the wings is Rosemary Muldoon (Blunt), who’s madly in love with Anthony, but he won’t give her the time of day due to a family curse revealed in the final act. (Trust me, it’s worth the wait.)

Shanley’s film is oddly paced yet has a sweet tone that many will find endearing. The story doesn’t translate to screen, and the performances are all over the place despite its cast’s unforgettable charm. 

Buy or Rent? Overall, sadly, this is mostly a skip (unless you’re remotely interested in uncovering the twist in real-time). 

Grade: C-

WILD MOUNTAIN THYME is now available on DVD and Digital.

THE CLIMB

Rated R, 94 minutes.
Director: Michael Angelo Covino
Cast: Michael Angelo CovinoKyle MarvinGayle RankinJudith GodrècheTalia BalsamDaniella CovinoEden MalynMeredith Holzman and George Wendt

Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Martin’s film, THE CLIMB, has been appropriately named for its themes and long journey to being released. 

The tale of a toxic friendship landed at Sundance 2019 to critical acclaim and became a festival darling during that awards season. We all know what happened in 2020, but Covino’s film hung around and kept building word of mouth. The film is hilarious, technically impressive, and shines a light on hard truths about the curse of maleness. 

The film is told across seven scenes, with the centerpiece thematically being cycling, which acts as a metaphor for the film itself. Covino and Martin find a cadence to their dialogue that perfectly props up the tension of cinematographer Zach Kuperstein’s long takes that revel in awkward interactions and hard truths. 

Mike (Covino) and Kyle’s (Martin) crumbling relationship is steeped in alcohol, sex, and ego. The film’s emotional weight (and humor) lies within feelings of heartbreak and the time it takes to hold onto old friendships even when challenging. THE CLIMB may not be easy, but watching Covino and Martin is as easy as cruising downhill.

Rent or Buy? THE CLIMB is a particular set of humor that independent cinema fans will find familiar, but those looking for something a little less biting may not see the film as amusing. However, Sony Pictures Classic loaded the movie with worthy special features that allow this special gem the shine it deserves. 

Special Features:

  • Commentary by Kyle Martin and Michael Angelo Covino
  • Sundance Q&A
  • Original Short Film
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes 

Grade: A-

THE CLIMB is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Our interview with actors-filmmakers Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Martin: