Angela's Ashes (1999)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Coming-of-Age, Period Film, Urban Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 25, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 145 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, Ireland, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Karl Williams

Assiduously capturing the filth and squalor of the impoverished family life described in the evocative, Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir by Frank McCourt, this stark adaptation frequently fails to depict the wit and humor with which McCourt renders the same circumstances, robbing audiences of the overall point. Director Alan Parker has adroitly recreated every nook and cranny of Limerick, Ireland, but what enchanted readers worldwide was the comedy in the midst of McCourt's heartbreakingly tragic tome. Parker and his co-writer Laura Jones have deleted so much of the author's worldview that this all-important flavor is absent from their bland film concoction, leaving behind only a stunningly downbeat and dark result. Superior performances by leads Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle make Angela's Ashes a movie worth seeing, but once Carlyle's gone from the scene the narrative falls flat, dingy, and lifeless. A prime example of how a book is so often better than the movie.