I’m not sure why they went with that title when so many other titles would’ve been better for this film that’s a mash-up of various genres. It’s mostly a sad character study, but it’s also a bit of a love story, and a super-natural thriller at times. I’m guessing those super-natural aspects will turn a few people off, but I had fun with that. You’re watching an interesting low-key movie, and the next moment you’re jumping out of your seat being scared by a ghost in the closet.
The movie is about a wood-shop teacher raising his two kids. His wife died a few years ago, and his father-in-law is depressed about being in an old folks home. He volunteers for a literary festival in town, and an attractive author of ghost novels has captured his interest; mostly because he thinks he’s seeing ghosts.
Aidan Quinn is the only actor I recognized, and he was great as a famous author attending the event, who likes his alcohol (and women), and isn’t afraid to throw punches around when things don’t go his way.
The Irish countryside is beautifully shot. And the scary scenes are a blast, and really work.
Playwright Conor McPherson did this movie, and did a great job of having it not sound like it was written for the stage. As much as I love David Mamet, that’s one of my complaints about some of his films.
There are lots of small touches that are done perfectly. Watching characters that break-up, without a lot of drama involved. Or, watching them slowly fall for each other while letting a friendship develop before quickly jumping into bed.
During one of the fight scenes, it seems realistic, as a sober guy is trying to calm the drunk character out of fighting. After a few punches and a headlock…one character is grabbed in the crotch until he lets go. You can always count on pain in that area to end a fight (remember Lou Gossett kicking Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman?)
I’m guessing this movie could’ve easily made $100 million at the box office, if McPherson just went with a super-natural thriller. I’m also guessing you would’ve had less of a movie.
Sometimes I felt a little more could’ve been done with this story. I also felt the ending was too much like Sideways (a man driving, while listening to a woman who left an answering machine message about how much she likes the story he’s written, and requesting to see him again).
Perhaps a scene could’ve been written that showed authors discussing their craft with each other at the literary festival would’ve worked. Or a flashback of the man doing something romantic with his wife, or spending time with her and the kids.
This movie might be a little slow for some people, but I enjoyed it.
I give it a B.