Writing about The Eclipse does not do it justice, as it is one of the most unsettling, freaky films to come along since 2007’s El orfanato (The Orphanage). And it’s not a horror movie or even a thriller. It’s a drama about love, family, relationships, and how we deal with the loss of someone close.
Michael Farr (Ciarán Hinds) is a recent widower raising his two children in the seaside town of Cobh, Ireland. One night he is awakened by a noise in his kitchen. Upon investigating he sees what he believes is the ghost of his still-living father-in-law. He pays a visit to the home the old man is staying in the next day and finds out that he too was visited by a ghost the night before, the ghost of his daughter — Michael’s wife.
The following week there is a large book festival in Cobh, where Michael volunteers to drive some of the visiting authors around. His first ride is Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn), a big shot novelist who has a head bigger than his book sales. Michael is also driving supernatural writer Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle). She’s there to promote her new book, ‘The Eclipse’, as well as continue her affair with Nicholas, who was supposed to leave his wife for her. As the week progresses Michael and Lena form a bond and as the two become close Nicholas becomes jealous and more ghosts return.
Based on the story Tales from Rainwater Pond by Billy Roche, The Eclipse is a near-perfect film with great directing, atmosphere, and acting, especially from Hinds, who won the Best Actor award for his work at the Tribeca Film Festival. This is all thanks to writer-director Conor McPherson, who has been celebrated for his many years working in theatre. If this is any indication of what he can do onscreen though, I hope he sticks with it.
The Eclipse was a welcome surprise and stayed with me days after watching it. If it had this much impact I have no choice but to recommend it. I do warn you though that you might be jumping out of your seat a few times.
**** out of 5 stars
Top image: A scene from The Eclipse. Courtesy Mongrel Media.