Starring Ciarán Hinds, Iben Hjejle, and Aidan Quinn. Rated PG. Opens Friday, April 16, at the Cinemark Tinseltown
With its leisurely pace, melancholy score, and low-key lead actor, The Eclipse is a curious supernatural drama that quietly lulls you into complacency. But just try holding onto your popcorn when its horrors are unleashed.
Watch the trailer for The Eclipse.
The magnetic Ciarán Hinds of There Will Be Blood stars as Michael, a soft-spoken carpentry teacher in a seaside Irish village who is grieving the loss of his wife to cancer and struggling to raise two teens on his own. His interest in writing leads him to volunteer as an on-call driver for an international literary festival taking place in his picturesque hometown, where he shuttles around self-absorbed American novelist Nicholas (Aidan Quinn) and the comely and personable Lena (Iben Hjejle), a British author of paranormal fiction whose latest work has captured Michael’s imagination.
As the plot slowly—and I mean slowly—unfolds, Michael becomes enamoured of Lena and seeks her help in explaining the unsettling apparitions plaguing him of late. His seriously depressed father-in-law is fading fast in a nursing home, and Michael experiences both tame and terrifying visions of the old man at various times. You can’t help rooting for the sensitive, guilt-ridden, gloomy-faced guy and hoping he’ll vanquish his demons as well as rescue Lena from the unwanted advances of the loutish, booze-fuelled Yank, a former lover who now sees her as the ideal replacement for his wife.
The simmering conflict between the two men as they vie for Lena’s attentions makes for effective drama, as does Michael’s profound need to bury his burden of grief and regret. Horror fans weaned on shock-filled cinema may balk at playwright-turned-director Conor McPherson’s subtle brand of storytelling, but like any ghost tale worth telling, The Eclipse will leave you strangely haunted. It just might take a while to recognize the feeling through that thick curtain of calm.