The Eclipse

The Eclipse

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

CiarĂ¡n Hinds - who won the acting award at last year's Tribeca for his sterling efforts here - plays Michael Farr. He lives in a picture-postcard pretty Irish town but his life is far from tranquil as he and his kids (Eanna Hardwick and Hannah Lynch) struggle to cope with their new roles following the death of his wife. Although this set up is quickly achieved, it's all uphill from here as Michael begins to be haunted - not, as you might expect, by his wife - but by her crotchety old father (Jim Norton) who is very much alive, although marking out his last days in failing health in a nursing home, cursed with that worst of all fates - the loss of a child.

Examining the idea of grief by way of horror has always been a neat metaphor - we are all at one time or another 'haunted' by the memory of those we have lost. Recently, The Orphanage got stuck into to this exploration with a vengeance, while Aussie film Lake Mungo gave its ghostly goings on a mockumentary twist. Here, however, the things that go bump in the night only serve to overwhelm some nice emotional drama elsewhere in the screenplay, so that neither the horror nor the humanity really works.

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Writer/director Conor McPherson tries to manipulate the audience by swinging between melancholic sadness and outright fear. Unfortunately, he completely overdoes the horror elements of the plot to such an extent that, although occasionally shocking, they are far too graphic for the softer parts of the story. Horror fans will likely find the gentle considerations of grief far too slow-moving and dull, while those who are engaged by the soul-searching stand a good chance of being completely put off by the sudden macabre outbursts.

The action is also hampered by a cliched subplot involving Michael's growing attachment to a horror novelist (Iben Hjejle), in town for a book festival and who is trying to fight off the unwanted attentions of a drunk American writer (Aidan Quinn on top form).

You can't help being haunted by the thought that if McPherson had picked one genre and stuck to it he could have had a serious hit on his hands, as it is, the terrific performances are eclipsed by the unsettled tone.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2010
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The Eclipse packshot
A writer is haunted by the living.
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Director: Conor McPherson

Writer: Conor McPherson

Starring: Ciaran Hinds, Iben Hjejle, Aiden Quinn, Eanna Hardwicke, Jim Norton, Hannah Lynch

Year: 2009

Country: Ireland

Festivals:

Tribeca 2009

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If you like this, try:

The Orphanage
The Others