Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Eclipse

My Rating: 10/10

EXCELLENT movie. Perfect, IMO.  Thinking about it long after it was over.  Note - NOT the Twilight movie, this is a 2009 Irish indie film, so don't think my mind has been possessed by a tweenie emo girl and I've started watching body-waxed vampire movies.

Review! Erm, OK, well for starters, this is a ghost story movie you can watch with your wife or SO. The trailers and promo stuff are not doing it any favors, IMO, because the marketing makes it look like a thriller or horror film, and in fact it is that and a lot of other things... It's really a ghost story, family drama, romance, comedy, and meditation on loss. And I will add that one key factor of enjoying this movie seems to be having experienced the loss of a loved one or close friend yourself. From comments I've read, a lot of folks who haven't gone through the process of someone suddenly just not being there any more, have a hard time relating to the film emotionally. 

The lead character has lost his wife to cancer, and is left grieving with two children and a father-in-law in a rest home. Strange events lead him to believe he is being haunted. Over the course of a few days, he works as a support guy for a local literary festival and crosses paths with a smart female horror writer and a drunken, egotistical, "name" writer. Aiden Quinn has a hilariously sad part as the famous author.

Someone on IMDB said that if you go into this expecting a horror movie, you'll be disappointed. Expect a thriller, and you'll be disappointed. Expect a romance, and you'll be disappointed. You kind of have to go into it expecting nothing and willing to go with the flow, to really enjoy it. While it is not an overt horror movie, I will say that it has some of the absolutely scariest scenes in cinema history - I jumped off the couch and nearly spilled my pipe all over myself at one point. It's reminiscent of "The Woman in Black" that way... Everyone remembers THAT scene from WiB, and the scare scenes in this are on par. While there are other things going on in the movie (Relationships starting, ending, family drama, etc), the haunting hovers over everything and jumps in at the most unexpected moments. 

It's also stunning to look at. The town where it was filmed is an amazing backdrop, and the cinematography and framing is fantastic. The use of lighting, blacks, silhouettes, landscapes, etc is really a visual treat. When it was over, Em commented, "That was as gorgeous as the Secret of Kells in an entirely different way". 

I have no idea what to compare it to. The pace is slow, the story is quiet and understated, the characters are riveting and real, and it has this odd quirky sense of humor on top of everything else - I think I can safely say that if you enjoyed the film "Local Hero", you would also enjoy this. Imagine "Local Hero" crossed with "Paranormal Activity", if you dare.

On IMDB, the comments run towards lots of thoughtful, well written positive reviews giving it a 7-10/10 rating, and various people giving it a 1 and saying it was the most boring movie they ever saw, was completely stupid, etc... "Nothing HAPPENEDDDDDD" was a common refrain. I'll admit that when it ended, I blinked and my first reaction was, "What? That's all?", but on reflection I feel it had a perfect ending - Ambiguous and open, so you can decide for yourself what happens next. Mostly I was just bummed to be parting company with these excellent characters after only 90 minutes. I do think that roughly 3 out of ten people will really love the movie, probably 5 of ten will shrug and think, "Meh", and 2 of ten will not be able to sit still or enjoy it at all because they want to see Jigsaw cutting up girls with silicon boobs.

Best watched when feeling quiet, contemplative, and perhaps a bit sad - and not in the mood for explosions, monsters, wacky comedy or car chases. Funnily enough, I would call this a very "adult" movie, in the sense that one has to have experienced some of the issues in the movie to really relate to it and appreciate it.

Damn good flick.

Second opinion:
(Interestingly, his complaints were what I liked - The fact that the movie does not hand you wrapped-and-tied explanations for everything. I enjoyed the ambiguity much like I enjoyed the ending of "The Thing" - Others who want definite explanations and a neat wrap-up will not be as happy)

Suggested Accompaniment: Something extremely elegant.  This is not a movie for a bathtub of buttered popcorn; it is more a movie for a glass of dry white wine and a long-stemmed black churchwarden pipe, preferably loaded with a slow burning flake tobacco like Three Nuns... Something sharp and with just a bit of bite.
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