The strange and meager film career of renowned American playwright John Patrick Shanley, 70, is marked by two milestones: his Oscar for best original screenplay for the highly unique romantic comedy Moon spell, Directed by Norman Jewison in 1987 and far from any conventionalism; and the textual, interpretative and critical power of the remarkable The doubt, based on a play of his own, directed with more effort than style by Shanley, and a candidate for five Oscars in 2008. Since then, not one more film as a director in 12 years, until the arrival of the unclassifiable An Irish song cosmic delirium of insufferable eccentricity, star-cast, also based on one of his works (Outside Mullingar) and composed as an obvious tribute to his Irish roots.
There is a magical breath in Shanley’s text that could connect with the wonderful behavioral and dialogue quirks of Moon spell, and even with the almost metaphysical peculiarities, although immersed in a juvenile comedy, of Joe against the volcano, his directing debut. However, this halo of almost heavenly fantasy is accompanied by a honeyed and cheesy visualization, with abhorrent shots with drones flying over the characters and, above all, there is no way to tie the loop to the things that happen, to the things that are said, and to the tone of the film. To begin with, the protagonists, Emily Blunt and Jamie Dorman, seem to be 20 years older than their characters would demand — two neighboring farmers, condemned to be a couple without succeeding since they were children, and involved in family troubles of fences and feuds; a fatal impression that, anyway, comes from the original work, performed by the even more mature Debra Messing and Brian F. O’Byrne.
The constant physical humor in Dornan’s character, based on his clumsiness, is close to ridiculous, and the contrast between the contemporary setting and the romantic conflicts of the characters, almost nineteenth-century, rather than original, is incomprehensible. In that world of legacies and inalienable dreams, commanded by the girl who aspires to be the white swan of the lake and by the boy who thinks he is a bee, although his interpreters are almost 40 years old instead of 20, almost nothing is saved. If anything, the force of the close-up of Christopher Walken, a couple of beautiful traditional songs and the freshness, despite everything, of Jon Hamm, the only one who seems suitable for his role: a posh American able to rent a Rolls Royce to go to a picnic in the country.