DIRECTOR: Alan Parker
Clocking in at two hours and twenty minutes, Angela’s Ashes charts the early life of the real life lead character, Frank McCourt, based on his autobiography. Set in the not so distant past of mid 1930’s Ireland, it looks like a Dickensian tome, with muddy streets, abject poverty and sewage being thrown down the street.
It’s hard to believe that this was life in the mid 20th Century in a western country, where religion and anti-British propaganda ruled the masses of a country that was more than a little down on its luck. Dingy, realistic and difficult to enjoy, this was a very real take on this dismal period in history.
The cast was admirable, with big hitters such as Robert Carlisle and Emily Watson as the titular Angela, but there were no weak links in this department at all. Overall, it was a very well made film but the drama was too loosely constructed and episodic as it simply followed the eldest son and writer of the source novel, Frank, as he grows up and attempts to realise his dream of leaving Ireland and building a new life in America.
If you like real life drama set in the dismal surroundings where escapism is nowhere to be seen, then this is a masterpiece, but for everyone else, it’s an interesting look into a way of life that should have died out with Queen Victoria. Ultimately, this film failed to make its money back and some would argue, failed to live up to the book and it certainly lacked enough humour to carry the story through what in many cases were traumatic events in such a dire environment.
And I must have the missed the point of the title, as what the hell were Angela’s Ashes?