In this incoherent film, capable architect Liffey (Kelly Reilly) moves into and renovates a remote Irish cottage. She falls foul of her mildly deranged neighbours, a mother (Molly) and daughter (Mabs) played by Rita Tushingham and Miranda Richardson. Mabs wants a male baby; Molly seems to have lost a male child. This makes them resentful of the pregnant Liffey. Various magical high jinks ensue, Liffey has a complicated pregnancy in more ways than one, and there may well be a ghost involved, too - it's all a bit vague.
Rita Tushingham does an occasionally comic job of darting madly around the undergrowth in full-on spaewife mode; Miranda Richardson does here best with the rather one-dimensional Mabs. Kelly Reilly unfortunately radiates a sort of tentative haplessness whenever she's called upon to depict Liffey's capable nature: issuing apologetic instructions to the builders, performing a bit of catastrophically unconvincing joinery, poking at a recalcitrant generator, or giving her boyfriend a rather listless reproach for getting the Land Rover "stuck" in two inches of mud. By far the most rounded and believable character is provided in a supporting role by Tina Kellegher as Mabs' nosey and sullen sister.
It gets worse: the male characters are stereotypical sexist ciphers, the sort that are insulting not just to men but to women as well. The two younger men are good only for delivering grunting sex, being a bit confused and hurt by the women's subtle natures, and getting into a fistfight (over the women, of course). The third male trundles in as a predictable Father Figure for the beleaguered Liffey: it's her ex-boss come to offer her her old job back, sporting a shock of white hair, a supportive and uncritical attitude, and a wardrobe from Old-Guy Chic. Donald Sutherland plays the role with a peculiar accent and a slightly spaced look throughout.
And there's something generally flat about the acting. In part this is because of the intermittently stilted dialogue, but there also seems to have been a directorial policy of keeping things understated to the point of incredulity. When Liffey and her boyfriend are told that she has a life-threateningly low placenta which will necessity an elective Caesarian section, they simply nod at each other placidly, as if they'd been told she might need to buy some elasticated pants.
Against this flat background, the overwrought imagery seems even more laboured: we got the analogy between the puffball fungus and the pregnant abdomen the first time, thanks. And the Jacques-Cousteau-style views purporting to be "sex from the inside" are simply hilarious.
Well worth not watching, despite a promising-looking combination of writer, cast and director.