by Del Harvey
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Writer/director Conor McPherson’s The Eclipse is a beautiful and sweet story about a man still struggling through the loss of his wife and the life-changing events which occur during an international literary festival in his hometown of Cork, Ireland.
Michael Farr (Ciarán Hinds - Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Munich) is a gentle and fair-minded woodshop teacher raising his two kids alone since his wife died two years ago. As the film opens he comes home from the first night of the festival only to be woken in the middle of the night by some indistinct noise. The dog heard it, too. So he gets up and looks in on both his 14 year old daughter and his 11 year old son, but they’re sleeping soundly. As he turns and looks down the stairs he sees a very indistinct apparition at the bottom of the stairs who seems to be talking to someone, although there is no sound coming from their mouth. The apparition turns and walks into another room. Michael follows, but there is no one there.
Not sure whether he was having a nightmare or if it was real, he calls the residence home where his wife’s father is being kept and is told the old man is fine. But the sense of unease remains with Michael. His young son seems further removed from him after this experience, but his sensitive daughter - very similar in many ways to his departed wife - seems aware that something much deeper is happening to her father.
Michael has been a part of the international literary festival in Cork (Cobh) for the past 10 years. Attracting writers from all over the world, Michael is assigned to drive and look after the attractive Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle - Cheri, Defiance), an author of books about ghosts and the supernatural. They form a natural friendship and he repeatedly tries to tell her of his experiences, especially since she is someone who can accept the reality of what has been happening to him.
However, Lena’s attention is constantly being pulled elsewhere, most notably by spoiled and popular world-renowned novelist Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn - This Is My Father, Legends Of The Fall), with whom she had a brief affair the previous year. Relentless in his self-centeredness, Holden is convinced he has fallen in love with Lena, no matter how many times she tells him the feeling is not mutual. He is going through a turbulent time, eager to leave his wife and give up everything just to be with Lena. As Holden grows more annoying and embarrassing, Lena does her utter best to extricate herself from his messy, emotional roller-coaster life and just get through the next few days.
As the festival progresses, the trajectories of these three people draw them into a life-altering collision. For Michael, the visions of his dead father-in-law appear every night, more disturbing with each new apparition. Something is going to happen, and the only person he can speak to who will understand is Lena.
Embellished by the supernatural, The Eclipse is a film about the challenges of love, fear of the unknown and release from the burden of grief. It is one of those films that makes you wish the characters and their story would continue on beyond the final reel of the film, it is that good.
The Eclipse has just won three Irish Film and Television Awards for Best Film, Best Script, and Best Supporting Actor (Aidan Quinn). The film premieres on VOD, Amazon and XBox Live on Friday, 2/26 and releases theatrically on March 26th.
To learn more about this amazing film, and to see the trailer, visit the official site here.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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