Angela's Ashes

1999

Angela's Ashes

Critics Consensus

In spite of its attempts to accurately record Frank McCourt's memoirs, the onscreen adaptation fails to capture any of the drama or humor of his life.

52%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 86

81%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,675
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Angela's Ashes Photos

Movie Info

In 1935, when it is more common for Irish families to leave their famine-stricken country for America, the impoverished McCourt family do the reverse. Following the sudden death of her 7-week-old daughter, Angela and her unemployable, alcoholic husband, Malachy Sr. set sail from New York Harbour to Cork with their four children- Frank, Malachy Jr. and twins Eugene and Oliver- to return to the land which mystified young Frank had only heard of as 'where there was no work and people were dying of starvation and the damp.'

Cast

Joe Breen
as Young Frank
Ciaran Owens
as Middle Frank
Michael Legge
as Older Frank
Ronnie Masterson
as Grandma Sheehan
Pauline McLynn
as Aunt Aggie
Liam Carney
as Uncle Pa Keating
Eanna MacLiam
as Uncle Pat
Shane Murray-Corcoran
as Young Malachy
Devon Murray
as Middle Malachy
Peter Halpin
as Older Malachy
Aaron Geraghty
as New Born Michael
Sean Carney Daly
as Baby Michael
Oisin Carney Daly
as Baby Michael
Shane Smith
as Middle Michael
Tim O'Brien
as Older Michael
Blaithnaid Howe
as Newborn Alphie
Klara O'Leary
as Baby Alphie
Ryan Fielding
as Older Alphie
Daire Lynam
as Margaret Mary
Frank Lavery
as Young Paddy Clohessy
James Mahon
as Middle Paddy Clohessy
Laurence Kinlan
as Older Paddy Clohessy
Lucas Neville
as Willie Harold
Walter Mansfield
as Fintan Slattery
Des McAleer
as Mr. Benson
Sean Kearns
as Dotty O'Neill
Les Doherty
as Mr. O'Dea
Brendan Cauldwell
as Mr. O'Halloran
Shay Gorman
as Mr. Hannon
Jon Kenny
as Lavatory Man
Susan Fitzgerald
as Sister Rita
Brendan McNamara
as Toby Mackey
Maria McDermottroe
as Bridey Hannon
Oliver Maguire
as Confession Priest
Eileen Pollock
as Mrs. Finucane
Alvaro Luccehesi
as Laman Griffin
Mark O'Regan
as Dr. Troy
Moira Deady
as Mrs. Purcell
Kerry Condon
as Theresa
Gerard McSorley
as Father Gregory
Garrett Keogh
as Mr. Hegarty
Eamonn Owens
as Quasimodo
John Anthony Murphy
as Redemptionist Priest
Phelim Drew
as Rent Man
Brendan O'Carroll
as Funeral Carriage Driver
Maggie McCarthy
as Miss Barry
Bairbre Ni Chaoimh
as Mrs. O'Connell
Nuala Kelly
as Dance Teacher
Brian Clifford
as Telegram Boy
Edward Murphy
as Young Mikey Molloy
Kieran Maher
as Older Mikey Molloy
Patrick Bracken
as Younger Question Quigley
Terry O'Donovan
as Older Question Quigley
David Ahern
as Cyril Benson
Marcia DeBonis
as Mrs. Leibowitz
Eileen Colgan
as Philomena
Alan Parker
as Dr. Campbell
Stephen Marcus
as English Agent
Brendan Morrissey
as Brother Murray
Darragh Neill
as Heffernan
Sarah Pilkington
as Minnie MacAdorey
Donncha Crowley
as Sacristan
Veronica O'Reilly
as Mrs. Carmody
Ann O'Neill
as Mrs. Dooley
Phil Kelly
as Father Gory
Jaz Pollock
as Roden Lane Neighbour
Paddy Scully
as St. Vincent Man No. 1
J.J. Murphy
as St. Vincent Man No. 2
Frankie McCafferty
as St. Vincent Man No. 3
Jack Lynch
as St. Vincent Man No. 4
Patrick David Nolan
as Travel Agent
Martin Benson
as Christian Brother
Birdy Sweeney
as Old Priest
Owen O'Gorman
as Sleeping Sailor
Pat McGrath
as Butcher
Ray McBride
as Mill Foreman
John Sheedy
as Coal Yard Foreman
Sam Ryan
as Shaved Head Boy No. 1
Donnacha Gleeson
as Shaved Head No. 2
Jim McIntyre
as Gravedigger No. 1
Richard Walker
as Gravedigger No. 2
Mary Ann Spencer
as Parent No. 1
Kathleen Lambe
as Parent No. 2
Jer O'Leary
as Parent No. 3
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Critic Reviews for Angela's Ashes

All Critics (86) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (41)

Audience Reviews for Angela's Ashes

  • Nov 23, 2012
    It's an Alan Parker-directed study on the childhood of a '30s and '40s Irish boy who was raised by an alcoholic father and depressed mother in a disease, if not death-ridden environment with no money or food, so you know that this film ought to be delightful. Shoot, just hearing Alan Parker's name, alone, disturbed me a smidge, and this film's poster really isn't helping all that much. I know that this story is one of getting by, but it's a bit hard to see the livliness in the film concept, unless of course you consider the film's release date as a part of the conceptful layout of things, because the final product was released on the usually ever so delightful day of Christmas. If that is supposed to be some kind of sickly ironic joke, then it's hilarious, and yet, even then, the film came out right before Y2K was expected to happen, and the joke - if there ever was one - turned on the people who funded this whole opus, because people's lack of interest in a disturbing drama such as this is reflected by the box office, so there wasn't really a whole lot of laughing going on when this film came out. Okay, seriously though, all joking aside, this film isn't all that depressing, and certainly has its wits about it at times, though you definately couldn't tell from, of course, that blasted poster of little Frank McCourt, broken and depressed-looking, staring almost angrily into the pit of your ostensibly well-fed soul (Well, at least it's not dead-cold-eyed Emily Watson staring into your soul), which isn't to say that you should all that different of a face on Michael Legge nowadays, as I'd imagine he's struggling to get some eating money. If your first question in regards to what I just said about Legge is, "Who?", rather than, "Why?", then you know why, which is a shame, because the boy can act and needs some recognition, as sure as this film needs to be better. Granted, I still liked this film just fine, yet make no mistake, it is hardly "starved" of shortcomings. Rich with potential depth, this film finds its worthy premise undercut largely by many a pacing issue, such as hurrying, for although the film generally, as I'll touch more upon later, outstays its welcome, there are still many an occasion in which key development, flesh-out and overall exposition is ever so unfortunately glossed over, if not just plain rather awkwardly slam-banged in, thus depth within the story finds itself diluted. Much too much finds itself hurried, often before we even begin to have a chance to truly absorb the story's depth, and that is indeed something that any given film cannot afford to let happen, much less a film that takes on as much material as this film takes on. Driven more by varying misadventures than layers behind a central point, this story is a highly episodic one that follows the diverse happenings that help in shaping Frank McCourt, which would work just fine and all, yet with exposition being so lacking, you neither absorb enough depth from the many, many tales behind a central story, nor gets a full grip on the organic flow between the various stories, thus the film is rendered tremendously uneven whenever it switches stories on us, and considering that this film is built on story switching, narrative structure is thrown so far off that it finds itself obscured, which of course leaves plot to essentially dissipate. The film is too all over the place to flow and comes off as too uneven to have a central aim or plot, yet not so uneven that you don't see enough similarities in each little story for the film to comes off as, if nothing else, exceedingly repetitious, with such limited dynamicity to its stories that the film comes out, not simply wandering aimlessly, but wandering aimlessly in circles, which would be more forgivable if it wasn't for this film's running just too darn long. Clocking in at two-and-a-half hours, this adaptation of Frank McCourt's layered memoirs seems adequate enough in length to fully absorb what it needs to with little excess fat, yet in the long run, even with all of the hurryings and under-exposition, the film still outstays its welcome, going bloated by the aforementioned over-episodicity and repetition, as well as other forms of consistent excessiveness that give you more time to focus on the structural missteps than depths of this worthy story. The film is just so messily structured and unevenly paced, yet at least keeps consistent with one atmospheric pacing: slowness, which, even then, isn't found throughout the film, and isn't really all that intense to begin with, yet remains the topper to the heap of missteps that bite away at this oh so promising project's bite until the final product is left tattered and underwhelming, though still intact enough to stay alive. I wish I could say that the film flows more effectively, or that it even flows all that much to begin with, yet for every bump in the road, there is a glimmer of hope that proves bright enough to get you by, or at least your aesthetic side. The film isn't quite as visually striking as I had hoped, yet Michael Seresin's photographic tastes remain sharp, with a kind of neatly old fashion texturing and lighting, married with more striking contemporaneous grit that both reflects thematic griminess and renders the film handsome. Again, the film's visual style isn't quite as striking as I make it sound, yet it has its near-breathtaking moments to break up consistent sharpness that both appeals your aesthetic side and supplements what effective thematic depth there is within the film, which is what you can say about the score work, or at least when it's actually used, for although the legendary John Williams' score feels rather underused, as well as occasionally rather formulaic, it engages every time it arrives by gracefully drawing from the atmosphere and dramatic depths, to where you're not only left with quite a few good tunes, but further breath of life into the film's tonal depths, which is something that this story seriously needs. Frank McCourt's young life was one of unpalatable hardship and crushing emotional struggle, yet ambition, humanity and overall hope still remained prominent enough to make McCourt's story a powerfully inspiring one that deserves to be presented better, yet still remains so strong that you'd be hard pressed to not be engaged by this film to some degree, based on the premise alone, even with all of the shortcomings in execution, and it helps that when this film certainly isn't without its share of moments in which it does, in fact, get things right. Laura Jones' screenplay is nothing short of consistently faulty in its structuring of McCourt's should-be comfortably-told tale, and Alan Parker's direction all too often fails to capture the full weight of the worthy subject matter, yet both Jones and Parker keep consistent in delivering enough of a certain degree of intrigue to keep you going, and when true inspiration arrives for both Jones and Parker, the film becomes particularly engaging, with striking resonance that both gives you a taste of what this film could have been and wraps things up rather comfortably, through all of the missteps, in order to assist in the film's going saved. Visual and musical artistry have only so much material, and the valuable story goes betrayed by Laura Jones' and Alan Parker's flawed offscreen performances, yet there's no denying the power of the premise, nor is there any denying that the story's execution, while considerably flawed, goes saved by the playing up of the worth waiting for strengths in the writing and direction, as well as by a not so faulty major department for the film: the acting department, because although acting material goes restrained with much of the dramatic depth, most every character is made colorful by the inspired performances behind them, with standouts including the Emily Watson as the struggling and emotionally unstable mother and Robert Carlyle as the regretful and flawed yet loving family man. Of course, once Michael Legge finally arrives to claim the lead role position, he owns the show, portraying the livliness of a young man during his coming of age with charm, and the depths of an ambitious and struggling spirit with moving emotional range and heavy layers that, when they need to most, define Frank McCourt with as much as of the sharpness that should have been found in the rest of the film. Yes people, complaints still stand firm, and I hate that, as this is a worthy project that deserves batter, yet at the end of the day, what the story ultimately recieves in execution has enough artistry and inspiration to it to give the final product enough depth to get by, even with the many shortcomings. Bottom line, the worthy and very human story goes plagued by slam-banged, or at least hurried exposition that both dilutes resonant bite and emphasizes the inorganic and exceedingly non-flow of the overwhelmingly episodic story structure that, with the help of excessive length and slowness, feels limp enough for the final product to fall both leaps and bounds short of potential and behind genuine goodness by its own right, yet not so far behind that you're not kept going by Michael Seresin's handsomely gritty photography and John Williams' elegant score, both of which supplement color in the execution of the very worthy story that is often betrayed by writing and directorial missteps, yet is about as often brought to life enough by both what is done right by writer Laura Jones and director Alan Parker and a myriad of engaging performances - particularly those of Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle and eventual leading man Michael Legge - to make "Angela's Ashes" a decent dramatic effort, even if it is one that still deserves better. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2011
    Very sad. I didn't care for the ending, but I thought the majority of the movie was very good. It was a little long, but it wasn't unbearable.
    Erin C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 23, 2011
    Fantastic film. Could watch this over and over again. The cast were fantastic and the acting was even better. A poignant story that had you reaching for the tissues because you were either laughing too hard or crying.
    Bethany M Super Reviewer
  • May 14, 2010
    I've read the book before seeing the movie and I thought that the movie tells the story very well. This is a tragic story about a poor Irish family in crisis trying to scrape every little food they can get. This is based on a true story told by the son in the family. You really get to appreciate your life and your wealth after you have seen this movie.
    Naughtia N Super Reviewer

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