An Irish Ghost Story

03/24/2010 4:00 AM |

The Eclipse

Directed by Conor McPherson

No, this is not The Eclipse where Monica Vitti and Alain Delon fail to rendezvous on Antonioni’s empty street corner, but an elegantly shot Irish ghost story directed and scripted by the popular playwright Conor McPherson. Michael Farr (Ciaran Hinds) is a teacher and recent widower who volunteers to ferry writers back and forth at a local literary conference. A stymied writer himself, Michael puts up with an impossible, thin-skinned novelist (Aidan Quinn, who seems to be spending the second half of his career playing epic pricks) and falls into a quiet involvement with Lena (Iben Hjejle), a nervous blond who writes mainly about the supernatural. Wouldn’t you know, Michael himself starts to see visions of an old man who may be the spirit of his soon-to-be-departed father-in-law, and McPherson stages one effective “gotcha!” scare in a car, but then lessens its impact by repeating it several times (imagine Catherine Deneuve continuing to see men in mirrors after her first big fright in Repulsion). You’ll be happy to learn that Michael has a sentimental rapprochement with his dead wife, and even gets some of his stories to a publisher through Lena’s help, as if McPherson’s film-long portrayal of a poltergeist was really just an opportunity for ghoulishly high concept literary networking. There are some fine, tense scenes in McPherson’s Eclipse, and some enjoyable hamming from Quinn, but it winds up being a very inconsequential picture.

Opens March 26