Top-notch performances in 'Eclipse'

Iben Hjejle as author Lena Morella in Irish love/ghost story The Eclipse.

Iben Hjejle as author Lena Morella in Irish love/ghost story The Eclipse.

LIZ BRAUN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:58 PM ET

The Eclipse is an Irish love story/ghost story hybrid, and has nothing to do with the Twilight saga or those teen vampires. Just so thereís no confusion.

Ciaran Hinds stars in the film as Michael, a man in mourning. Heís a widower raising his two children alone, and itís obvious that heís not coping particularly well. His sleep is interrupted by strange and haunting sounds in the house. A generally unsettled air hangs over everything.

Michael is also responsible for his father-in-law, an elderly man who lives in a type of nursing home. The old man is devastated by the death of his daughter, Michaelís late wife, and sometimes, Michael thinks he glimpses his father-in-law as a ghoulish apparition.

Michael and his children live in the seaside town of Cobh, where thereís a celebrated annual literary festival. Michael is a teacher, but he volunteers during the festival, driving the visiting authors around town and acting as an unofficial tour guide. The festival introduces the other main characters in the story: Aidan Quinn as Nicholas Holden, a famous ó and obnoxious ó visiting author, and Iben Hjejle as Lena Morelle, a bestselling writer of supernatural stories. Her new book is called The Eclipse.

Nicholas and Lena have had some sort of romantic attachment in the past. Lena is single and happily so, while Nicholas is married. There is endless tension between these two.

Then Michael enters the equation, as Lena is one of the few people who can understand what he has gone through with the death of his wife. An odd triangle develops among Nicholas, Lena and Michael, and the tension builds accordingly. Love, loss and yearning are under the microscope.

The Eclipse mixes complex emotional matters with snippets of ghostly activity and the minutiae of everyday life, tying it all together with beautiful, if disturbing, music. Those melodies of the High Mass, layered under such visuals as the quaint village or glimpses of religious statues, helps create an atmosphere of the spiritual and ghostly that makes even the most innocent daytime scene somehow menacing.

The Eclipse examines grief and loss, and itís a fascinating, if not entirely satisfying movie. The experience of seeing it feels more like watching a play.

The disparate elements ó ghosts and authors ó never quite meld, and thatís a pity, because the performances are top-notch. Hindsí portrayal of Michael won him the best actor award last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, and the movie has won other honours on the festival circuit.

(This film is rated 14A)

liz.braun@sunmedia.ca


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