I have never read Frank McCourt's novel nor will I ever, but as a movie, Angela's Ashes is an easy tale to watch. The tale is McCourt's life and how he and his family deal with a dad that doesn't provide and miserable living conditions that are hardly suitable for humans to stay in. It is also about Frank trying to earn enough money to come to America, the home he left when he was younger.
The most noticeable thing about Angela's Ashes is the dreary splashes of pale blues and grays. There is hardly a moment in the film where the weather is sunny, and it is raining most of the time. I hear Ireland is a pretty damp place, but I doubt it rains as much there as it does in the movie. However, I do feel that it is an adequate exaggeration of Frank McCourt, since it probably did seem to rain everyday to him. Nearly every setting is dreary and rotten, only personifying Frank's hatred of the country. Or at least of his life.
With exception to a few over-the-top performances, the actors in Angela's Ashes do a believable job. Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, The World is Not Enough) is the most standout figure, playing Frank's dad. Frank loves him but at the same time hates him because Dad always wastes their precious money on booze. Emily Watson is another person who has been seen before, and she is the title character, Angela. She is Frank's focus because through all the years, no matter how tough, Angela tried to keep the family together and alive anyway she could. She resorted to begging and to other things to protect her children. Three boys play Frank, Joseph Breen, Ciaran Owens, and Michael Legge. To compare them, Owens does the best job, but all three are noteworthy.
The only thing I found surprisingly was how little the brothers were featured in the story. Whether Frank's memoirs of his brothers were cut out of the movie or were not included in the movie puzzles me. However, I am sort of thankful since the movie does run for a 145 minutes, a good 25 minutes longer than it should. I had no trouble watching Angela's Ashes but a 145 minutes is still a long time for a movie of this sort. The running time is probably one reason why this film suffered at the box office.
Angela's Ashes suffers from length but does not suffer in presentation, showing Frank McCourt's life as a child in Ireland.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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