Friday, July 16, 2010


I love indie movies. I also love Ciarian Hinds (who incidentally is 3 years younger than me!). I've loved Hinds since I saw him in Persuasion as Captain Wentworth, and as a tormented soul in The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Recently I watched The Eclipse (2009), an odd but likeable mish-mash of paranormal, love story, and even comedy. Hinds plays a widower who believes there are supernatural forces at work in his house. That's what drew me to the movie initially. He feels an attraction toward a woman novelist, Lena, played by Iben Hjejle, who writes about the supernatural. The actress playing this part was very natural and believable and funny - she is spooked by the dark, and doesn't want to talk about ghosts - very cute, given her line of work. Hinds seems to be in that lost place after the untimely death of a loved one where you can't quite go forward. The grief is still there, still raw, like a low grade fever, but you are trying mightily to get on with life.

Lena has an ex-lover, Nicholas, played by Aiden Quinn (who I've liked in the past but whose character was totally obnoxious in this movie). I'm sure there was a reason this character was in the film, tension I guess, conflict maybe. To me he seemed pointless and irritating.

Ciarin Hinds hears and sees things in his house that can't be explained. He tries to talk to Lena about it but she doesn't like talking about ghosts (just writing about them), and says they're too "spooky". I found that an appealingly quirky twist to her character. You would expect her to want to discuss Hinds's situation very seriously but she just won't talk about it. Especially after dark.

The early scenes in the film where Hinds experiences odd occurrences are truly creepy. I like ghost stories very much but I don't like the slasher ones they keep making, with a lot of CGI creatures. There wasn't too much of this in the film, and the first time he sees a ghost - or whatever it was - is the way I would expect such a phenomenon to happen.

(Let's digress here and while I tell you about my one and only ghostly encounter. If that's what it was.)

My cousin was living in his ex-wife's home (there is a story there but not now. It was a beautiful home in a very wealthy part of town - old money. I was told that the house was built from an old house transported over here somehow from Europe. While this house had not been built for that long, the materials - most of them - came from an much older structure in Germany, I think.)

To fully understand this, you have to have a visual of the layout of the house. Imagine that as one enters the back door, you were standing in an entry and could either go left or right. If you go right, you go into a guest bedroom, up a few stairs into a sitting room, continue into another bedroom, then down a few stairs and you would be in the living room/dining room - a big open room. If you go left, you go through the kitchen where I think there was another outside door. The entry way was hardwood, so if someone walked across the floor, you could definitely hear them.

Well - my cousin and I and a couple of others were standing in the dining room. The back door opened and closed. We all stopped talking and listened to someone walk across the floor (wearing sneakers, it seemed because there was that squeaky sound the rubber soles make) and definitely go into the guest room - still hardwood. We heard the sound of someone going up the few steps into the sitting room, then no sound.

Someone called out my cousin's mother in law's name but no answer. No one came through into the living room. We looked at one another then a few went through to the entry way and on into the bedroom, others went around the other way through the living room, up the stairs into the second bedroom/sitting room. We met each other there - but no one else.

There was no doubt among us as to the direction the steps took, and there was no other way out of the house on that side.

I guess they could have gone into the kitchen but we definitely heard those footsteps going upstairs - the sound is unmistakable.

It was a strange experience. My one and only such experience.

But to get back to the movie, I recommend Eclipse if only because Ciaran Hinds is in it, and the female lead, Iben Hjejle is quite charming, and her apprehension about discussing ghosts is endearing and funny. In the end, the film ends on a hopeful note although all the pieces seem to not quite fit together. Still, see it if you can. It's not a great movie but a pleasant one.