WILD MOUNTAIN Thyme has been accused of perpetrating “racial stereotyping of the highest order” in its depiction of Ireland.
The Times’ chief film critic Kevin Maher has branded the film anti-Irish and called for it to include a “content advisory” warning over the “paddywhackery” present in the film.
"My tongue is slightly in cheek when I say there should be a content advisory warning,” he explained to Newstalk.
"I think, instead, there should be just equivalence between every other type of cinema.
"Disney+ are actually putting, on their streaming service, content advisory warnings on old episodes of 'The Muppets' when they feature characters like a gypsy at one point - so that'll be offensive to people - and Johnny Cash I believe is standing in front of a rebel flag.
"In this context, it just blows my mind that a film like Wild Mountain Thyme can exist and can be promoted by Hollywood, can star Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan - and yet it delivers a depiction of Ireland that's gone beyond 'Quiet Man' paddywhackery and is just borderline offensive: full of Guinness drinking, brain-damaged gombeens."
He argued that the depiction of Ireland presented in the film had its roots in the colonial oppression of the 17th century, when the Irish were depicted as gombeen men as part of a justification for invading it.
While he acknowledged that it was “po-faced” to draw a comparison between that era and the current day, Wild Mountain Thyme still felt “like representational fascism” to him.
“I don't know why Ireland has been ring-fenced as this place where idiotic stereotypes are great fun and the craic,” he said.
"There's this idea of post-colonial internalisation of stereotypes, and Irish people especially seem to be really happy with the cruddy Irish stereotype.
"Maybe the issue is really that these stereotypes can exist if they must, but they should exist in parallel to movies like 'What Richard Did' and films that examine Ireland as a pluralistic place.
"Examine Ireland as a place where tech headquarters of Facebook, Twitter and Google are set up, and that it's a place of different identities."
He also claimed the film was eerily similar to the 1952 Maureen O’Hara/John Wayne classic The Quiet Man – and not in a good way.
“It's the exact same film, literally, in almost its structure,” he said.
"It's the same idea about a sophisticated American coming into a backward place and being sort of beguiled by it - John Hamm is the John Wayne character.
"So nothing has changed, and I think that's worthy of interrogation".
Wild Mountain Thyme has been the source of much derision since its release, not least for the array of Irish accents attempted by the likes of Emily Blunt and Christopher Walken.
Both Blunt and co-star Jamie Dornan have defended the film, however, and told critics they have lost "no sleep" over the criticism of their accents in the film.