Short Takes: The Eclipse
By Laura Kern
(Conor McPherson, Ireland, 2009)
Can a film be haunted? With its distancing long shots, creeping camera, and moodily underlit silhouettes, as well as an aura of otherworldly presence sensed throughout, The Eclipse makes a compelling case for the idea. At the very least, it serves up a cast of extraordinarily haunted characters.
Michael Farr (a terrific Ciarán Hinds) is haunted by the death of his wife, as are his two children by the loss of their mother. And he is now experiencing alarming visions of his infirm father-in-law (introducing the fascinating concept that someone’s spirit can materialize just prior to death). Novelist Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle), who comes to Michael’s stormy Irish coastal town for the annual literary festival, where the once-aspiring writer volunteers as a driver, was first drawn to the supernatural after seeing a ghost as a child. And if we are to believe anything that the cad says, even her colleague, the pompous married drunkard Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn), tells Lena he is haunted by the memory of the one night they spent together in the not-so-distant past.
Writer-director Conor McPherson, better known for his extensive stage work, has no trouble shaking any sense of theatricality. The Eclipse is wholly, if strangely, cinematic; its dream-like tonal and narrative unpredictability, interspersed with a few completely jarring horror-film moments, make for an experience that will, yes, haunt audiences for a long time to come.