Very Annie Mary (2001) Poster

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A Love Song to Life
gpadillo28 September 2004
Very Annie Mary took me by shock and surprise.

Rachel Griffiths gives her finest performance – and though the film is 3 years old, she hasn't as yet done anything quite as satisfying as her brilliant turn as Annie.

33 year old, Annie comes off as mildly retarded, and, in the truest sense of the word, she is, since life pretty well ended at 15. That's when Annie Mary, who wanted nothing more than to be an opera singer, won a vocal competition judged by Pavarotti who told her she would have a marvelous career, and she's given a grant to study in Milan.

That same week, her mother took ill, died, and Annie was forced to give up her dreams to stay and take her mother's place in the home. Her father accomplishes his means by humiliating Annie into believing she isn't special, she isn't, in fact, anything at all.

As Dad, Pugh, Jonathan Pryce is terrific as. Selfish and cold hearted almost two decades after he's shattered her dreams, the man still berates his daughter calling her talentless, useless, stupid, slovenly and cuts her to her heart laughing at her "what man would ever have you?" He forces her to dress in his own dead mother's shapeless, matronly as he constantly tells Annie how beautiful her mother was.

The film opens with Pryce singing Puccini's Nessun Dorma from a mounted speaker system atop his bakery delivery truck as he drives through the Welsh countryside. As the camera pulls in, we see Pugh "The Voice of the Valley" in a rubber Pavarotti mask and wearing an Pavarotti sized tuxedo. Beautiful and hilarious all at once.

While not slapstick Griffiths' Annie Mary is prone to extreme clumsiness – often moving (especially when running) like an excited 5 year old, all stiff arms and awkwardness. She's adorable. Clumsiness leads to minor accidents, falls down stairs, running into doors and other objects – each moment is hilarious yet does something to endear this ugly duckling even more to us.

When Dad suffers a stroke, Annie Mary is forced to take care of the household – with riotous and disastrous results.

The heart of the film centers around Annie's relationship the village and her best friend, Bethan, a bedridden teenager. The village wish for Bethan is to send her to Disneyland. Bethan's only wish is to hear Annie sing. Through an unlikely series of events(including a talent competition, a bouncing Pavarotti, the Village People and the Welsh Grand National Horserace and the entire village turning against Annie) Bethan – and the village – get to hear Annie Mary find her voice again. It is a magical moment blending pathos, forgiveness, hope, heartbreak and Puccini, as Annie Mary finds not only her voice, but the means to carry on.

Very Annie Mary is easily one of the most joyous DVD discoveries I've made.

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Although billed as a musical comedy there's so much more to the second film from emerging writer/director Sara Sugarman.
Chris_Gardner29 May 2003
Very Annie-Mary (M), now showing at The Regent Theatre in Te Awamutu, is not only packed with laughs but takes the audience on a roller coaster ride of human emotions. Inspiring feelings of amusement, hope and joy the film also has moments of utter clarity, deepest despair and complete regret - it's guaranteed to break your heart before restoring your faith in humanity. Thirty-year-old Annie-Mary, played by Six Foot Under star Rachel Griffiths, has never left her Ogw home in the Welsh valleys and is under the thumb of her father. The dizzy girl, who won a prestigious Welsh singing competition in her teens, still dresses as though she were 16, secretly smokes and cannot cook – quite an irony as she works for her father. She secretly dreams of leaving home and setting up with her best friend, the terminally ill Bethan Bevan (Joanna Page), who is half her age, as well as marrying Colin Thomas (Rhys Miles Thomas), a candidate for the Baptist ministry and the only man in the valley under 60. When her music-loving father Jack Pugh (Jonathan Pryce) suffers a stroke during a charity recital Annie-Mary is forced to grow up and take on some responsibility – the only problem is she has no idea about life in the real world, keeping her money in a piggy bank. She's so clumsy that she walks into doors. The film delivers a believable portrayal of life in a Welsh village, something a frequent visitor to Wales like me is qualified to say. Hornblower star Ioan Gruffudd goes back to his Welsh roots to make an appearance as gay confectioner Hob while former Hi-de-hi star Ruth Maddoc plays Pugh's love interest, Mrs Ifans. While the film contains some sex scenes, which are far from graphic, there is also a smattering of offensive language. This aside, Very Annie-Mary is one of those films that sees you leaving the cinema riding on a cloud. The music is just great too.
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A little gem of a film
kanga-517 March 2002
I enjoyed every minute of this film, and I think that's the great thing about it; it's consistently entertaining. It's got funny moments, touching moments, sad moments, and a downright beautiful finale that left me feeling warm.

It's not a blockbuster, it doesn't have car chases or explosions or explore the depths of the human psyche, but it's very enjoyable in a down-to-earth sort of way.

The characters really draw you in and are excellently portrayed by the cast, with unintrusive directing that lets the superb script do the work. I was surprised at how low this film had scored, and recommend that anyone who roots for the underdog or has ever wanted to just say 'Nuts to the lot of you, I'm doing what *I* want' will enjoy Very Annie Mary. Go on, give it a try. You might like it...
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Blown Away by Rachel Griffiths
maclark-114 May 2006
I was blown away by the range of emotion and expression shown by Rachel Griffiths in the movie, Very Annie Marie. I was not particularly impressed with her acting in the HBO series, Six Feet Under, but now I realize she is unable to use her talents to the full extent that she did in Very Annie Marie. I have a new sense of respect for her. In this movie, I found her to be a brilliant actress who is absolutely captivating and her delivery and comic timing are superb. Knowing that she is a native of Australia, I was completely convinced by her portrayal of a Welsh woman. This movie reminds me of the sweet humor and warmth of the movie, Calendar Girls, in that it portrays colorful characters who are believable and not just Hollywood stereotypes. Rachel is a bright spark that brings life and a sense of joy to the movie. I would like to know if she was actually singing the aria. If not, I was completely convinced that she was. I have not previously written a review but was so impressed with Rachel's performance that I had to this time.
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The baker's daughter
jotix10020 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The life of Annie Mary changes completely after the death of her mother. Annie Mary, who had a beautiful voice, suddenly stopped trying to sing opera. Her life in the small Welsh town is boring, to say the least. To make matters worse, her best friend, Bethan Bevan, is struck by cancer. Annie Mary, who is a loyal friend, wants to help her sick friend go to Disneyland.

Annie Mary's father, Jack, has a bakery in the town. We see him as he makes his deliveries in a Luciano Pavarotti's mask and singing in his beautiful tenor opera arias that are much admired by the people of the area. When he suffers a stroke, Annie Mary's life goes into a tail spin. As a caretaker, Annie Mary is useless. As much as she tries to make a go at being a baker, she never makes it work. In desperation she turns to Mrs. Madoc, her father's girlfriend, to buy her out.

As a way to help Bethan, Annie Mary and a few of the town's women, she decides to enter a contest in Cardiff. They have prepared to do a number of the Village People, "Y.M.C.A.", but they are horrified when they arrive at the hall where the competition is going to be held, and watch a group of men doing exactly their number, much better. The women decide to change their act into a sort of "Three Tenors" aria in which Annie Mary, wearing an inflated rubber suit, floats into the audience. Needless to say, they win, but emboldened by the turn of events in her life, she gambles all the money into a horse race and loses it.

Annie Mary becomes Ogw's most hated person. What's more the trip to Disneyland is too late for Bethan, who suffers a relapse. It's at this point that Annie Mary finds her voice again and she gives her friend a rendition of Puccini's aria "O mio bambino caro" in a shaky voice that gets better as the scene changes to another location.

Sara Sugarman, the writer and director of this screwball comedy was lucky in casting one of the most talented actresses working in films these days: Rachel Griffiths. Ms. Sugarman gets a tremendous performance out of Ms. Griffiths, who shows her range in a role she was born to play. Jonathan Pryce is also excellent as the distant father who can't see eye to eye with his daughter.

Although sometimes the accents get a bit hard to follow, the luminous presence of Ms. Griffiths and the sure direction of Ms. Sugarman make us overlook that minor problem and enjoy the comedy.
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A Little Town in South Wales is Bursting with Life and Stories
gradyharp24 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
VERY ANNIE MARY is a quirky little film written and directed by Sara Sugarman that manages to delve into myriad fantasies and manners and crushed dreams and come out with a thoroughly tender, warm hearted and funny result. There are more interesting characters of all types in this story, each of whom could be expanded into a film all their own.

After a rollicking opening sequence of a bakery delivery van topped with speakers blasting Puccini's 'Nessun dorma' over lovely countryside of Wales - the driver is the town baker Jack Pugh (Jonathan Pryce) who wears a rubber mask and bloated suit that mimic Pavarotti singing along with a recording - we meet the town folk. Jack's daughter Annie Mary (Rachel Griffiths) is in her 30s, stuck as a surrogate wife and slave to her father and his bakery business. She seems loopy and perhaps retarded (socially indeed, if not a bit mentally) and has borne the brunt of her father's scorn since her mother died when she was fifteen, just when Annie had won a singing competition judged by Pavarotti. The loss of her mother places her in the role of 'wife' to the dastardly John who daily convinces her she is a nothing while he pursues his avocation of singing for the townsfolk as the Voice of the Valley. Annie's only remnant of her past survives in her teaching voice lessons to such odd folk as Hob (Ioan Gruffudd) and Nob (Matthew Rhys), gay friends of hers with delusions of Hollywood. Her closest friend is teenage Bethan (Joanna Page) who is ill.

Annie Mary spies a house on the market, desperately wants to get out from under her father's control to make a life of her own, and shares this with Bethan. During one of his concerts John collapses with a stroke and it appears Annie's dreams of independence are crushed. The townsfolk decide they want to befriend Bethan and monies are gathered to send Bethan on her 'dream' - a trip to Disneyland. In a hilarious talent show meant to raise funds for the Disneyland trip Annie and her friends win the contest and the money meant for Bethan's trip is entrusted to Annie. Annie again stumbles and squanders the funds on her own dreams by buying sensual satisfaction. Broken by her own mistake, Annie confesses to Bethan and Bethan replies that her only dream before dying is to hear Annie sing. And sing Annie does, in probably the most touching performance of Puccini's 'O mio bambino caro'. At last Annie Mary has regained her self-respect and has a glimpse of her own life. The closing multiple resolutions of the film are full of surprises of the best kind.

Every character in this delightful film is well acted, but there are moments by some, like the very weird, besotted minister (Kenneth Griffith), that certainly deserve awards for brilliance. VERY ANNIE MARY is a rich, multilayered, magical film with outstanding performances by Rachel Griffiths and Jonathan Pryce. The only fault one might find is that much of the dialogue is indecipherable due to the Welsh accents that challenge the ear! Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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The Best movie made in Wales about Wales EVER
robert okeefe27 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Right first things first, one of the other reviews critisizes Jonathan Pryce's Welsh accent, I take offence at this especially since Jonathan Pryce IS WELSH!

Next thing this review contains some ******SEMI-SPOILERS******

This movie is set in a fictional Welsh village, where a daughter Annie Mary lives with her domeniering father, she is a typical "klutz", but with a heart of gold. Annie once won an Eisteddfod but has "lost" her voice. Her best friend is terminally ill, and she is trying to find herself. I won't spoil it by relating specific sections but watch out for the cafe owners, the minister and his sandwiches and the Contest.

This is a VERY funny and moving film, that had me crying at different points for different reasons, laughter and sadness. It really catches the Welshness of my country. There have been other good movies set in Wales but none as good as this. I enjoyed "The Englshman who went up a hill and came down a mountain" but that was a stylised Hollywood version of Wales. This is the way Welsh people are.

Hire this movie, You'll enjoy it, and if you don't then you didn't get it. So watch it again until you do!

The cast were brilliant, although seeing one of the character's who own the Station Cafe may cause a few ladies to cry into their hankies as you see one of the new generation of hearthrobs Ioan Gryffydd playing a .... well basically a "queen" and very good at it he is too. Special mention after my introduction should go to the leading lady Rachel Griffiths as this actress an Australian has a brilliant Welsh accent.
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A funny and heartwarming welsh(ish) comedy
HufflepuffGB4 June 2001
I knew the film was going to be funny after watching the trailer, but now that I have seen it I can honestly say it is better than I had expected. Even Jonathan Pryce's dodgey welsh accent can not hinder the enjoyment of this movie. Many laughs, a few tear-jerking moments, but all in all a really worthwile movie.
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funny and moving, beautifully acted
anonReigate14 May 2002
Set in a small Welsh village, this film is a gentle expose of small-town politics. Slowly, Annie Mary escapes from the tyranny of her father to make a life for herself. There are some moments of comic genius, superbly handled by Rachel Griffiths who somehow always manages to make the character of Annie-Mary credible and touching. The gay sweet shop owners and the pop group 'Hinge, Minge, Twinge and Bracket' are delightful diversions, while the terminally ill Bethan Bevan provides pathos as well as resolution for the character of Annie-Mary. A wonderful, eccentric, film.
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Loved it!
kevinulachrist24 April 2003
When you go see this film, please sit back and relax. This is a fable, a story where, yes, eccentric characters are overdramatized, but anyone that's been to Wales will see just that, the people are very funny. Rachel Griffiths is excellent, as is Jonathan Pryce, as her bullying Welsh father. This is not a US blockbuster, but then again, it wasn't supposed to be. The story has heart, and the one scene where Rachel's character (Annie-Mary) goes up in a balloon in a dance hall was very funny. The accents are hard for folks that don't understand any language other than American-English, but when you see a Liverpool film, a Scottish film, do you expect to understand anything other than the loveable laughable characters? View, sit back, relax..and enjoy the experience of "something different".
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Seriously funny
karin226 November 2001
A brilliant, moving and funny movie. Look out for Hob and Nob! Ioan Gruffudd and Matthew Rhys were my first reason to watch the movie, but it turned out to be an excellent movie all together. It is as much a serious movie as it is funny. Well played with a variety of music.
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A Welsh Winner
mkorshak31 May 2006
Just watched this film on Sundance channel, because I saw Rachel Griffith was listed as an actor. I'm a great admirer of Rachel Griffith, starting with Hilary and Jackie, then the TV series, Six Feet Under. Rachel Griffith's work in this film, frankly, blew me away! (and of course, the exquisite "Muriel's Wedding.") She is a magnificent actor, totally into the role of Annie Mary. It took me about 20 minutes to convince myself that "Annie Mary" was indeed Rachel Griffith, she was that into the character. It's hard to believe this film is now over 5 years old. It's timeless! I did find the Welsh accent hard to understand, at points, but would be willing to see the film again to listen more carefully. Some of the plot intricacies escaped me, probably because I was watching a TV screen, not a large cinema presentation. I'm still in the dark about an important plot development in the closing part of the film, but that didn't affect the overall impact. Also, one loses a lot on a TV presentation because the credits are largely unreadable.
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Quirky and delightful
neithernor200024 June 2006
You would think a movie featuring an inflatable Pavarotti impersonator, a seventy-year old woman in a Tina Turner costume belting out "What's Love Got To Do With It" and a scratch and sniff bible goes over the top with loud humor. That is not the case with VERY ANNIE MARY. It is a small film, quirky, tender, and funny in a mostly quiet way. Rachel Griffiths is excellent as a homely girl with a tyrant of a father who dresses her in her grandmother's clothes. The Scottish town they live in is determined to raise enough money to send a terminally ill teenager to Disneyland. I won't tell you anything more about it other than to rent the DVD or look for it on the Independent Film channel. You'll be very glad you did.
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Very enjoyable,but dialogue difficult for americans.
cgiles251 April 2002
As a welshman who left the Rhondda 50 years ago, it was a delightful experience to see and hear all the welshisms. The story was funny, and a little sad. The singing was lovely.I saw the movie at Newport Beach in California and I am afraid the american audience did not get it. My wife and I ,had to really concentrate to follow the dialogue of the support actors. We intend to see it again!
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A very enjoyable film but with a better film trying to get out
tim-89424 June 2005
I had never heard of this film but it was in my local library in north London so I decided to give it a try. It took a while to get into it and at first I found most of the characters annoying; either caricatures or buffoons. But it sort of grew on me. It is certainly far better than a good deal of the Hollywood dross that is foisted on us because of the distribution system in the UK. Quirky, funny, sometimes irritating but mostly amusing, this made me long to go back to Wales. It seemed to get to the heart of the country in the way that The Full Monty got into the heart of Sheffield. The two gay guys doing "Annie Get Your Gun" was one of many very funny, and touching, original little scenes with which this film is filled. I think this movie may well grow as it ages and eventually be seen as a little classic. I hope so because, at least for one afternoon, it really made me smile.
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fixx46 May 2003
A joy to watch, Rachel Griffiths, Jonathan Pryce and Ioan Gruffydd should have been nominated for academy awards, a film like this is packed with a unique Welsh humour, that is sometimes hard for those not blessed to have been born in the beautiful country, to understand. Rachel Griffiths, a Welsh name, an Australian actress who made herself live the part, to become Welsh and understand what it means to live in a small community such as is portayed in this classic. If you buy no other film this year, buy Very Annie Mary, you'll laugh, cry, sympathise, and go through a million different emotions, you'll never look at a cabbage in the same light again. Superb acting, fantastic soundtrack, how does Puccini go side by side with the Village People - it does here. 10 /10 amazing film.
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One of my favourite films
mrspacino15 January 2003
This film is superb. It's bonkers, realistic and fabulously fresh. It doesn't fit in with any common genre and really makes one feel a part of this bizarre Welsh community portrayed in the film.

The characters are full and rounded, peculiar perhaps, but they are completely real. I've shown this film to a group of Year 11 students I teach, and they loved it. I've also shown it to my mother and she loved it too.

It has universal appeal and the fact that it doesn't follow normal conventions is what makes it attractive and utterly brilliant.
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very very good Annie Mary
selffamily2 September 2007
I have seen this before, and it has been calling me to watch it again. I sat down today and floated through it - maybe you miss bits the first time - I know I enjoyed it today more than ever. I grew up with Welsh family, visits to the valleys, and loved them. This does not disrespect any of that, but gently take the Mick as you do with loved family members. It's a funny film and a touching film and in parts when she's being really stupid or trying to impress, cringe-making, but then it all comes right at the end. Quirky, oddball and unusual of course those words spring to mind, but the singing is sublime (dubbed?) and the Welsh scenery is of course beautiful. The cast are amazing and the conversation is natural - people behaving as they do. thanks for a very enjoyable couple of hours!
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Mild spoilers.
kathye-824 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I settled down to watch this having recorded it some years ago when it was shown in the BBC sign zone, something I had forgotten till the sign language started up in the bottom corner! My sister must have recommended it to me as one of her favourites and that was all I knew of it. I found I didn't know what to make of the film throughout, was it funny or sad, comedy or tragedy? I guess it's both.

Some bits shocked me, like her maltreatment of her disabled father, yet it made me adjust the stereotyped view of someone in this situation and remember that she was barely able to take care of herself properly and therefore totally clueless about caring for a disabled person, let alone him being the father who had put her down with his criticism for years.

Whether it was the filmmaker's intent, I found the sensation of watching brought alive the situation of life just 'happening' to Annie Mary so that one moment her friend Bethan says she's in remission and the next she's talking about a hospice with no lead up to it either way.

Annie Mary felt a very real character in the way that I found myself liking and disliking her, she wasn't all good or all bad as a human as with some of the more 'easy' to watch films from Hollywood where you know who to like and dislike within minutes of meeting them.

Overall it has been a film that has made a real impact on me, too soon to say what but waking up having watched it the night before I find it is still vivid in my mind, still making me think... and feel.
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Fun comedy with a terrific Griffiths.
Fedor Petrovic (fedor8)9 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
One of those quirky British movies; fortunately, this one has a couple of great laughs: when Griffiths makes her first attempts at baking and distributing bread, and when she pumps her suit with gas and floats in the air. Other amusing moments are when she re-paints the house to the utter (helpless) dismay of her crippled, stroke-stricken father, Pryce, and when she offers money to a stuffy, nerdy Baptist to have sex with her. The first half is solid, and then things pick up when Pryce is put out of commission by a stroke; things get funny from then on, although there is also some sentimentality towards the end (not at all badly done, considering it's schmaltz).

Griffiths is terrific as the semi-retarded woman; they tried to make her as less attractive as they could, e.g. with that ridiculous hair, but her good looks nevertheless manage to come through often enough.
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A very nice surprise
markovici11 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It's not pretentious, but it's just plain nice.

Sure, it's got a few flaws, but the story is good, and doesn't make a black&white picture. She IS human, unlike most movie protagonists, yet in her past so many things were strange, forbidden, unavailable to her so she is like a child in a certain way. Once she get's her freedom, she then starts making up for all the time that's been stolen from her - but also learning and making the mistakes she shouldn't have, for life is something new to her.

...spoiler.... and the scene with the helium suit is just hilarious ...spoiler...

Funny, sweet, really nice.
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Cowin' brilliant
zygoticmynci11 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Being Welsh and having visited Bargoed many times as a child, I was able to identify with the spew of peculiar characters this film had to offer. Sara Sugarman manages to poke fun at all aspects of the Welsh culture, but without being disrespectful and offensive. This is a first-rate comedy, which is easily on par with The Full Monty and East is East. The film is well-crafted and the performances are nuanced and executed with much conviction. With each viewing I notice something else, for example: the way the bumbling vicar peers up at the sky after hearing Annie Mary's angelic voice echo through the valleys, as if to imply a sound so beautiful could only come from one place.

Viewing criteria:

* get a curry * cwtch up to partner & * transport yourself to the distant land of Ogw
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kirsty_chick_ere2k54 August 2005
I'm not just saying it was excellent because my dad Darren Dobbs was in it its because it was a great film i really enjoyed watching it and IOWN was in it and he is one of my favourite actors he has been in loads of films i love Hornblower titanic and very Annie Mary!! I hope sum one reads this soon and gets back in touch with me i would so love 2 meet with IOWN he is one of my favorite actors encluding Chris Evans who was also in fantastic 4 with IOWN. It would be a plesure to meet with him and my dad has already met IOWN backstage of very Annie Mary.I loved ere body's acting in the film they all performed very well lots of love Kirsty xxx
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Brill Brill BRILL
anniharris16 November 2002
This is definitely the 2nd best film I've ever seen (Once Upon A Time In The West is my fave). But Cerys Matthews lends her all here. It made me laugh - it made me sigh - it made me cry. But mainly it made me feel so proud to be Welsh!

Don't miss it
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I loved this film!
taskerdan10 November 2002
I'm a big fan of Rachel Griffiths work both in films and TV. Originally from Australia, she has mastered roles as an American, and now Welsh. I found her character in this film a delight, and was entertained from beginning to end. If you liked Waking Ned Devine, The Full Monty or Brassed Off, you should find and see this film.
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