Irish Wish

Irish Wish
Irish Wish
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Lindsay Lohan starred in her first film for almost ten years when she appeared in the Netflix Holiday movie “Falling for Christmas” two years ago, and she brought it to another level of charm. She has gone back to director Janeen Damian with whom she did this same type of screwball romantic comedy formula for “Irish Wish,” but this time adding a fantastic element and the luck of the Irish.

She is playing Maddie Kelly, a book editor who has a secret she harbors: that is, being in love with her author Paul Kennedy (Alexander Vlahos) who is an exceptionally skilled romance-writer but whose charisma comes from his nationality— I mean he is an Irishman deep down inside! Only her mother Rosemary (Jane Seymour), a high school principal in Des Moines, Iowa knows this. Maddie plans on telling him tonight –and their best friends- how she feels at the big splashy premiere of his new book after which Emma (Elizabeth Tan), her best friend, accidentally bumps into him with an outstretched arm while trying to remove what looked like an eyelash stuck on Paul’s cheek. The chemistry between them happens instantly and we have advanced three months only to find everyone whisked away to Ireland for a grand wedding that will take place at Paul’s country estate.

Maddie has her own meet-cute when at the airport she mistakes James’ (Ed Speleers) suitcase for hers; James being a roguish English photographer. After they have resolved the confusion however, they get onto a bus together which takes them over miles out into the countryside where they exchange more biting remarks going home hating each other more than ever before. During an evening walk around their new house, Maddie sits down on a wishing chair made of stone and suddenly impish Saint Brigid (Dawn Bradfield) challenges her to make one wish. “I want to get married to Paul Kennedy,” she says with a lot of passion just as the wind blows pink petals around her in a whirlwind. 

However, sometimes it happens that the end result of what one had longed for becomes even more catastrophic than the curse it was meant to be; hence Maddie wakes up on her wedding day knowing that this is not going to work and neither herself nor her husband are suited for each other. His boorishness only becomes more apparent with time. While having some doubts, Maddie spends some time with James who is passionate and intellectual and has been conscripted into becoming her wedding photographer. It is when she realizes that her wish has fucked everyone’s life –and that may be in love with James- that a priest tells her St Brigid is not unlike St Mick or St Keith, because you do not always get what you want but, you will certainly get what you need.

Despite the genre’s lack of originality in terms of the structure and plotting, just having Lohan in the film is enough to make it worth watching. She remains an undeniable star who always knows how to play a screwball comedienne even when the material is not comic (I’m looking at you “Just My Luck”). So often Damian films her up close, underlit with gold light which brings out her stunning face without making a fuss about it. Her chemistry with Speleers overflows leading them to sizzle their patter and bring a genuine heat to their romantic moments like this secret dart game in some far-off bar. In terms of physical comedy, her pratfalls are funny and well-timed but sometimes there are editing gaps between herself and whoever doubles for her.

And, of course, the Irish countryside is gorgeous. Starting from glittering waters of Lough Tay to awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher; viewers are moved into lush mystical lands where mischievous fairies may still live and true love conquers all. The Irish-ness here is heightened by Nathan Lanier’s score that can sometimes sound trite but mostly comes off as endearing variations on typical Celtic music motives.

Where the movie becomes weak however is in its cast support system. Vlahos makes an excellent dumb Paul; his voice reminded me a lot of “Liberty Biberty” car insurance adverts, but I mean that positively. However, Seymour was largely wasted as the mother character. Not only does she never once share a scene with Lohan that isn’t over FaceTime; her humor was just too broad and didn’t seem to fit into what the movie was trying to do. Olivia Paul’s mother played by Jacinta Mulcahy doesn’t fare much better either; she might as well be wearing a sign saying ‘rich white woman’.

Tan has some moments as Emma where I really felt for her if you imagine that she is from an alternate universe and the man she loves is marrying someone else. However, their romance is flat in both universes considering the emotional stakes involved. Heather has been named after a character called Ayesha Curry who doubles up in this movie as a celebrity chef with no acting skills.

In spite of its minor flaws, “Irish Wish” is just as diverting as one of Maddie’s paperbacks novels for Paul yet an also forgettable one. I really want to see Lohan become the star of a big budget romantic comedy like “Anyone But You”, however, if she has finally found some creative freedom and safety working with Damian, after all that unfair media attention she got for so many years then, having one of these little small-budget Netflix romps thrown together every now and again, it would be brilliant.

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