The unexpected death of her husband sends a woman and her seven children, ages 2-14, into emotional turmoil and financial crisis in 1967 Dublin. She is forced to borrow money from a ...
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The unexpected death of her husband sends a woman and her seven children, ages 2-14, into emotional turmoil and financial crisis in 1967 Dublin. She is forced to borrow money from a ruthless loan shark to make ends meet. She faces her dismal existence by selling fruits and vegetables at an open air market where she spends time with a best friend who gives her encouragement. Wishing to escape her existence, if only for a short time, she dreams of finding enough money to attend an upcoming Tom Jones concert. She realizes her dream by accepting her first date with a French baker. Her kids pool their money so she can buy a new dress. Of course, eventually the family has to face the loan shark, but this is a movie where obstacles are maybe too easily overcome. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In Dublin, 1967, a woman with seven children is suddenly faced with the travails of widowhood in `Agnes Browne,' directed by and starring Anjelica Huston. After the unexpected death of her husband, life becomes something less than a picnic for Agnes (Huston), what with children ranging in age from two to fourteen and no assets to speak of. She keeps her head above water and some food on the table by selling fruit at an outdoor market, but makes barely enough to make ends meet, while she awaits her widow's pension from her late husband's union. But even when and if it comes, she realizes it won't be enough on which to live. It's a bleak state of affairs for Agnes, who luckily has a dear friend, Marion (Marion O'Dwyer), who is always there for her; and with friendship, a sense of humor, and the dream of seeing Tom Jones in concert, it's enough to keep her going as she manages to take it all one day at a time. There are poignant moments in this character driven, heartwarming film, as well as some funny ones; Huston has done an outstanding job of creating a mood and an atmosphere that brings the Irish working class vividly to life, and she populates her landscape with characters who are not only real, but incredibly rich in their humanity. She captures the heart of Agnes and the others with an emotional depth that draws in the viewer and allows the empathy through which an intimate bond with the characters is established. And they quickly become more than just characters in a story; these are people you come to care about, and when something bad or untoward happens to any of them, you feel it just as deeply as they. Huston gives a terrific performance as Agnes, imbuing her with both a strength and vulnerability that make her real. She has a look of world-weariness about her, but there's a glint of hope and humor in her eyes, which are like a doorway to her soul; you need only look there to know what she is feeling inside. And Huston plays it all so perfectly. In her motion picture debut, O'Dwyer gives a memorable performance as well, as Marion; though nondescript in appearance, there is nevertheless something charming about this woman, and it has everything to do with `character.' Through her unwavering loyalty to Agnes she personifies the meaning of friendship, and exemplifies how invaluable a true friend can be, especially in times of need. It's a touching portrayal that is one of the strengths of the film. The supporting cast includes Niall O'Shea (Mark), Ciaran Owens (Frankie), Roxanna Williams (Cathy), Carl Power (Simon), Mark Power (Dermot), Ray Winstone (Mr. Billy), June Rodgers (Fat Annie), Jennifer Gibney (Winnie the Mackerel) and Tom Jones as himself. No stranger to all things Irish, Huston was the perfect choice to star in and direct this project. With `Agnes Browne,' she succeeds splendidly, with a film that is striking both visually and emotionally. And, lest it be taken for granted, one need but consider Alan Parker's `Angela's Ashes,' which visited the same territory but came off flat and uninspired, especially compared to Huston's film, which so distinctly and fervently imparts the essence of the proud Irish poor. Largely ignored during it's theatrical release, this film hopefully will find a second life on DVD and video, and realize the acclaim it so richly deserves. A real sleeper, this is a gem of a film just waiting to be discovered. I rate this one 8/10.
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