“The Eclipse” is a moody Irish thriller about a recently widowed teacher who is a volunteer at a local literary festival. Michael (a deeply moving Ciarán Hinds) is doing his best to stay strong for his children and his father-in-law, but has not begun to let himself think about how devastated he is by the loss of his wife.
He is assigned to be the driver for one of the authors at the festival, Lena (Iben Hjejle of “High Fidelity”), who writes non-fiction books about encounters with ghosts. The most prominent author at the festival, in more than one sense of the term, is the pugnacious and needy Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn). He comes to the festival in part to see Lena, with whom he has a history and hopes for a future.
All of this could work as a straight-forward drama but writer-director Conor McPherson adds a mysterious overlay of the supernatural that seeps into the interactions between the characters. It creates a pervasive tug of dread and uncertainty. The contrast between the forces the characters are struggling with, from the largest emotional conflicts to the smallest domestic tasks, and the forces that are just beyond reach but seem to be reaching for us. McPherson has a gift for silences and superb control of mood. The story explores the prism of liminality. It is not just the ghosts who are stuck between worlds.
Parents should know that this is a horror movie with some very disturbing supernatural images and make-you-jump surprises. There is a sad death and characters use very strong language, drink, and smoke. There are sexual references and non-explicit situations.
Topics for discussion: Have you ever seen a ghost? How do you think the real and supernatural elements of this story complemented each other?
If you like this, try: “The Others” with Nicole Kidman and “The Innocents,” based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.