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The Eclipse [Blu-ray]
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Irish playwright Conor McPherson successfully transitions from stage to screen for his third cinematic go-round (after two less successful efforts). Woodworking instructor Michael Farr (Munich's soulful Ciarán Hinds), who lost his wife two years before, volunteers as a chauffeur for Cobh Cove's annual literary festival. As the event begins, he sees the ghost of his father-in-law, Malachy (Jim Norton), who isn't dead, wandering through the townhouse he shares with his two children. Michael seeks advice from Lena Morelle (The Boss of It All's delicately pretty Iben Hjejle), British author of The Eclipse, a book about ghosts. She suspects Malachy might be close to death. Married American novelist Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn in feisty Norman Mailer mode), who had a fling with Lena the previous year, has also arrived in the Cork hamlet, hoping to rekindle the flame, except the divorced Lena finds herself drawn to the soft-spoken widower. If Michael shares her interest, he isn't quite ready to move on, though the combination of a persistent ghost and a desperate novelist pushes him in unexpected directions. As that trajectory suggests, McPherson's minor-key movie takes aim at the adult audience, and those accustomed to more sensationalistic fare may find it a little dull. The angular cinematography and minimal special effects produce some genuine chills, but psychology ultimately trumps the paranormal. In that sense, it serves as a welcome throwback to the sophisticated chillers of the 1960s, like The Innocents and The Haunting. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Not expecting the unexpected, I was genuinely creeped out at least twice, something I haven't "enjoyed" in many years. I suppose that's the beauty of not knowing what you're getting into. Thankfully, shocking the audience is not what this film is about.
The Eclipse is for adults in the sense that adults tend to be more interested in character development and relationship dynamics, both of which are here beautifully realized by committed performances. Also, it does not sensationalize, being rather discrete about the supernatural elements the intrude, almost gratuitously, into the plot.
I'm happy to recommend this well-wrought drama that does what good entertainment ought to do--transport.
Actually, this movie was based on a short story that was strictly about a widower's life in the wake of his wife's death from cancer. The short story had no ghostly elements at all. These were only added for the sake of boosting cinematic and box office appeal. And it shows. The brief appearances of actual ghosts here are often alarming, menacing, downright shocking, and so are at war with the general mood of this film. The film's essential theme is the possibility of finding another mature, tender love after one has suffered the loss of one's first partner in life. The occasional hair-raising intrusions of apparitions onto the scene are adventitious and unnecessary.
The main intended sentiment of the film is beautifully conveyed by the actors. Ciaren Hinds plays his part of the widower with just the right combination of a numbness that closes him off from the world and a longing that opens him up to future possibilities.
This is a rare adult love story, in which "adult" does NOT mean X-rated - but harkens back to an earlier, more essential meaning of the word "adult." Here the two adults express their maturity by being sane, stable individuals who put getting to fondly know each other first and foremost.
While some supernatural elements are present, this is about much more. It's also very well acted and photographed,and looks great on blu-ray. If you don't come looking for a frightfest you'll find a very worthwhile drama about real people.