It’s as if censorship were back: Why Ireland can’t watch Wild Mountain Thyme this month

The Jamie Dornan movie is out for rent in the UK on April 30th. But it won’t be available on TVs here

Those awaiting the most eagerly awaited film of the year will, it seems, have to await just a bit longer. John Patrick Shanley's Wild Mountain Thyme will not be available to rent in the Republic of Ireland on April 30th. The distributors have clarified that the twinkly romance, subject of much pre-emptive derision following the dropping of a trailer last November, will be "coming to cinemas in the Republic of Ireland this summer".

Viewers in the UK will still be able to view the film digitally from the end of the month. The good burghers of Newry and Coleraine can enjoy Jamie Dornan romancing Emily Blunt in the privacy of their rose-covered shacks. Those in Navan and Cork must wait for the opening of cinemas.

It is most unusual for a release to be made available for digital rental in the UK but not in the Republic of Ireland. Most readers took “UK” to refer to the combined UK and Irish market – as with the United States and Canada, distributors sometimes treat the territories as one – and looked forward to an evening of ironic paddywhackery over the bank-holiday weekend.

Conspiracies already abound. Such was the aghast hilarity – sometimes bleeding into naked anger – at the stage-Irishness of the trailer that, when the film opened in the US, before Christmas, many American reviews referred to the response in Ireland. David Rooney's comments in the Hollywood Reporter were typical: "Derisive reaction to the film's trailer in the Emerald Isle suggests it's less likely to be remembered alongside The Quiet Man than Far and Away, the 1992 Hollywoodized Oirish epic with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. "

Shanley was dismissive of the blowback. "I told Emily when we first talked about this project, 'I'm not making this movie for the Irish. If you try to get the Irish to love you, no good will come of it,'" he told Variety.

With this in mind, more than a few on social media have suggested that Lionsgate, the film’s distributor, is trying to hide it from domestic audiences. This seems unlikely. The chatter around the picture would, most likely, only have increased rental demand for a film that received largely negative reviews on its American debut. It looks as if there is a real desire to get the film into cinemas.

Nor is Brexit to blame. The distributor still retains rights to the picture on both sides of the Irish Sea. But this remains a notable anomaly. Memories revive of the bad old days when censored films – everything from Brief Encounter to Monty Python’s Life of Brian – played merrily in the UK while Irish audiences seethed. Not that Brief Encounter has much else in common with Wild Mountain Thyme.

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