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Angela's Ashes

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Angela's Ashes

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Emily Watson
Director: Alan Parker
Rated: R
RunTime: 145 Minutes
Release Date: January 2000
Genres: Drama, Comedy

*Also starring: Joseph Breen, Ciaran Owens, Ronnie Masterson, Liam Carney, Andrew Bennett, Joe Breen, Michael Legge, Pauline McLynn

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Whereas a novel is written to be appreciated for its language and literary integrity, a movie is a visual medium. Most often, the books that make the best films are those with clear narratives and focused stories. In Angela's Ashes, author Frank McCourt put the entire story inside the mind of a character and focus solely on that character's inner world - what he is thinking, feeling, remembering. While filmmaker Alan Parker has dealt with the Irish before in The Commitments, he now, working with writer Laura Jones, meticulously evokes McCourt's saga of poverty, pain, ignorance, and the death of three children. But their anecdotal screenplay fails to capture the Irish-American writer's lilting wit and emotional poetry. The story begins in 1935 in Brooklyn as the titular Angela (Emily Watson) falls apart when her baby daughter dies, and the family, consisting of her irresponsible, alcoholic wastrel of a husband (Robert Carlyle), Frank and his brothers, goes back to Limerick, Ireland. As McCourt noted in his opening paragraph, that was a big mistake. Life in the miserable, wet, filthy Roden Lane slum - painstakingly recreated by production designer Geoffrey Kirkland and captured by cinematographer Michael Seresin - is awful, and, at school, Frank's teachers are either religious or nationalistic fanatics. It isn't until he's a teenager, working as a mailman, that life begins to hold possibilities, particularly the promise of returning, alone, to America. Three actors - Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens, and Michael Legge - play Frank as the resilient boy-to-man who bravely copes with his dysfunctional family and rises above his terrifying travails. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Angela's Ashes is a respectful but depressing, grim 7, giving one a greater appreciation of America as the land of hope and promise.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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