Angela's Ashes

Angela's Ashes is the new retelling of Frank McCourt's beloved Pulitzer Prize winning memoirs of the same name. In his memoirs, McCourt recounts his poverty filled childhood in Ireland. Angela's Ashes became wildly popular because of the way McCourt told his story. The book is full of humor amidst the horror, and is told in a lyrical, poetic manner. Thankfully, the movie is able to retain many of these elements and at the same time put images to the words, along with an excellent performance from Emily Watson.

McCourt's life begins in Brooklyn. His family is dirt poor, and moves back to Ireland, where he spends the rest of his childhood with his mother's family. Angela (Watson, Cradle Will Rock, Hilary and Jackie) is the backbone of the family. But even at home, Angela's family shuns her because of her marriage to Malachy (Robert Carlyle, Plunkett and Macleane, The World is Not Enough). Malachy is from the Protestant North, while Angela's family is from the South. Also, Malachy is not able to hold a job, and frequently spends any money he earns on alcohol. Young Frank (Joe Breen) can do little but sit back and watch as his family moves around and siblings die. As he ages, Middle Frank (Ciaran Owens, Agnes Brown, The Butcher Boy) begins to realize the situation he is in. His schoolmates taunt him about his tattered clothes. His unconditional love for his father starts to waver. Here, Frank decides that he will do what he can to escape this poverty and leave for America when he is able to do so. By the time Frank reaches adolescence (Older Frank - Michael Legge), he is the man of the house, and his dreams of going to America are closer than ever.

The overall mood of Alan Parker's (Evita, The Road to Wellville) adaptation is characterized by the gloomy settings. Every house the McCourts live in is in shambles. It is constantly raining. There is little color outside of the grays and dark blues that pervade the movie. Through all the bleakness, McCourt and screenwriter Laura Jones (Oscar and Lucinda, Portrait of a Lady) manage to instill a ray of hope. Frank and his brothers and friends manage to find humor and hope despite of all their troubles. Frank is a bright student, and realizes that he can rise above the poverty and better himself somehow. Angela's Ashes is an inspiring movie, and hopefully an adaptation of McCourt's sequel 'Tis will appear sometime in the near future.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good.
2 hours, 26 minutes, Rated R for sexual content and language.

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