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Angela's Ashes Film Review

Updated on September 7, 2019
Emily Watson
Angela McCourt
Robert Carlyle
Malachy McCourt
Joe Breen
Young Frank
Claran Owens
Middle Frank
Michael Legge
Older Frank
Ronnie Masterson
Grandma Sheehan

About the film

Producers: David Brown, Scott Rudin

Director: Alan Parker

Running time: 2 hrs 25 minutes

Genre: Drama

Budget: $25,000,000

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

About the film

The film is based on the book of the same name written by Frank McCourt. This is a biographical film based on his own childhood with his parents and brothers. Born in the USA, they lived in New York before moving to Limerick in Ireland. The story tells of the utter devastation and deprivation they endured as a family and how they coped with this. It focuses on their fight for survival and struggling with every day life. Narrated by Frank McCourt, he brings to life Frank's life on the streets of Ireland.

It was after the sudden death of their 7 week old daughter that the impoverished family decided to move to Ireland. With no money and nowhere to live, Angela's mother gives them the money for 2 weeks rent. As Angela struggles to put food on the table for her growing family, their father is happy to spend what little money they do have in the pub. The film tells the story of their sheer desperation the family had simply to get by. There is narration throughout the film where the narrator talks about life in New York and Limerick, through the eyes of Frank. The film tells the story of Frank, his parents and his younger brothers, but Frank is the prominent person in the book and how he coped with life. Life in a Catholic Church was equally as hard with the strict rules and teachers, but Frank grew to love reading and writing - in particular, Shakespeare. This proved to serve him well at school. The film spans his childhood from the age of 7 until he grew up and left Ireland for the USA.

Witnessing his communion and his life in a Catholic school brings home what a tough upbringing he, and the other boys, endured in their early years. Residing in a flooded house where they had to live upstairs, the utter despair these young boys went through is heartbreaking to watch. Saying that, there are some touching and heart-warming moments. For instance, the times Frank enjoys going for walks with his father, when he's sober. His father enjoys telling him stories of his youth and his life. Frank enjoys this and savours these moments. The family suffer more heartache as the squalid conditions they are living in result in the death of Angela and Franks young twin sons. At nearly 2.5 hours long, the film is one of love, hate, a fight for survival and how they overcame this.

When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how my brothers and I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood; the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.

— Frank McCourt

My Thoughts

The film is a touching and sad story about Frank's life, and that of his brothers. No doubt there were many thousands of people in the same situation as his. But through his book, ultimately made into a film, it has brought home the struggles both him and his siblings had. And, of course, his parents. Robert Carlyle who plays Malachy McCourt plays as excellent part. Squandering away what little money they had on drink, it shows in the film the hardship they went through. In Ireland, they had to live upstairs as the ground floor kept flooding with all the rain.

Yes, the film does make for difficult viewing. But as I mentioned above, there are heart warming moments in the film with Frank and his father. Sad as it is there are, however, one or two light-hearted moments in the film. For instance, when all the family are sleeping in bed, one of the children is woken up yelling and screaming. The next scene is all the family out in the street in the middle of the night beating at the mattress trying to get all the fleas out of it.

The film brings home what life was like in Limerick, Ireland. I've no doubt that Malachy loved his family dearly and wanted to do the best for them. But his addiction to drink ultimately had a devastating effect on the whole family. The 3 young actors who play Frank at the ages of 7, 11 and 15 play their roles well and told their story well. It couldn't of been easy for them playing this role, but on the screen they made it look real and believable.

DVD Extra's

  • Behind the scenes
  • Cast and crew interviews
  • Alan Parker Commentary
  • Frank McCourt Commentary
  • 2 Trailers

© 2018 Louise Powles


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