Based on the best selling autobiography by Irish expat Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes follows the experiences of young Frankie and his family as they try against all odds to escape the ...
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Based on the best selling autobiography by Irish expat Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes follows the experiences of young Frankie and his family as they try against all odds to escape the poverty endemic in the slums of pre-war Limerick. The film opens with the family in Brooklyn, but following the death of one of Frankie's siblings, they return home, only to find the situation there even worse. Prejudice against Frankie's Northern Irish father makes his search for employment in the Republic difficult despite his having fought for the IRA, and when he does find money, he spends the money on drink. Written by
By rights, 'Angela's Ashes', Alan Parker's film of Frank McCourt's account of growing up in astonishingly deprived conditions in the impoverished theocracy of inter-war Ireland, should be unwatchable: just how much misery can a viewer be expected to take? But in fact, Parker tunes the misery level to perfection, and the movie is never as gruelling as its subject matter might lead one to expect. And while it doesn't quite have the emotional impact of the work, say, of Ken Loach, our foremost chronicler of contemporary poverty, there are still fine performances from all of the cast, most especially from the luminous Emily Watson (playing the eponymous Angela, whose ashes, however, appear to have disappeared from the screenplay). There are some nice stylistic touches as well: Limerick may be one of the wettest cities in Europe, but in this film, it lives under a perpetual cloud, though it gets a little brighter when the hapless heroes move into a slightly better class of house. But only a little. This is a movie that leaves you with a sense of sheer amazement and horror at how recently people lived in worse conditions than we would treat animals; and at the scale of the social and economic transformation that Ireland has undergone in McCourt's lifetime. And also at the unrivalled brilliance of Watson's skills as an actress.
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