The Eclipse is a curious Irish ghost story that fiddles with the recipe just enough to produce interesting results. Solidly built and middle-aged, Michael Farr (Ciarán Hinds) isn't the kind of vulnerable-looking nightgown-clencher usually cast to jump at bumps in the night—and it's a not-yet-departed spirit that first harasses him. Working for a literary festival in his hometown of picturesque Cobh, widower Farr begins a shy flirtation with a visiting authoress, Lena (Iben Hjejle), and winds up competing for her affections with bestseller brat Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn's enjoyment of playing such a lavishly awful American is infectious). Here are the makings of a touristic, poshly photographed grown-up romance—except, just as you're sufficiently becalmed by one of the recurring parentheses of choral music and solitary drift (director Conor McPherson's mood-setting feels suspiciously like padding at times), a bloodied ghoul jumps out. Michael shows Lena the local sights, and they form figures-in-a-landscape compositions before the low whorled clouds, clean waterfront houses, and the Cathedral that towers over Cobh, as inescapable as the unarticulated guilt that shadows Michael. The Eclipse is the simultaneous revelation of a place and a man, with their shared history, and it plays by virtue of Hinds, his face a hewn and weathered monument to regret.
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