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Irish actor Ciaran Hinds has been a fixture of British and Irish TV and film for decades. I loved him in Prime Suspect 3 (1993), and since then he’s only become more popular; this fall, he’ll be appearing as Dumbledore’s brother in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
In Conor McPherson’s The Eclipse Hinds plays Michael Farr, a man who recently lost his wife to cancer, and who is struggling to take care of his two young children while also volunteering at the local literary festival. While helping out at the festival, Farr meets Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle), a novelist with a flair for the fantastic—her latest book is about seeing ghosts. Farr himself has suddenly begun seeing apparitions of his elderly father-in-law, and feels an instant kinship with Morelle because of her seeming expertise on the subject.
As the two grow closer, Farr’s ghost sightings become more extreme, and Morelle is pursued by a one-time love interest, played with boozy verve by Aidan Quinn. Everything eventually comes to a head—but the film doesn’t devolve into horror-film cliché, nor does it turn into a sappy supernatural romance story. Instead, it stays quiet, thoughtful, and realistic—once the film ends, you have the distinct feeling that anyone could see a ghost, no matter how sane they are.
The Eclipse’s poignancy is anchored by Hinds’ earnest, sympathetic performance (which netted him a Best Actor award at Tribeca in 2009) and this is what keeps it from tipping over into ghost story absurdity. McPherson’s directing is also wonderfully understated—the film has a real life to it, with fully developed characters and a setting (County Cork, Ireland) that’s just misty enough to be a little otherworldly. This film is perfect to curl up with on a chilly fall night.
The Eclipse is now available on DVD.