Ironweed 1987

Ironweed

Critics Consensus

Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep play masterfully off each, but Ironweed's unrelenting bleakness proves to be more monotonous than compelling.

58%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 24

59%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,818

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Movie Info

In Depression-era Albany, N.Y., erstwhile baseball star Francis Phelan (Jack Nicholson) has become an alcoholic vagabond after guilt over accidentally killing his infant son led him to desert his family. Over the course of several days, he ambles from gritty job to dirty bar to makeshift sleeping quarters. By chance, he encounters fellow itinerant drinker and his sometime lover, Helen Archer (Meryl Streep). Together, they wax nostalgic about their haunted pasts.

Cast & Crew

Jack Nicholson
Francis Phelan
Meryl Streep
Helen Archer
Carroll Baker
Annie Phelan
Michael O'Keefe
Billy Phelan
Diane Venora
Margaret `'Peg'` Phelan
Margaret Whitton
Katrina Dougherty
Nathan Lane
Harold Allen
Rob Cohen
Executive Producer
Joseph H. Kanter
Executive Producer
Denis Blouin
Executive Producer
John Morris
Original Music
Lauro Escorel
Cinematographer
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Critic Reviews for Ironweed

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (10)

  • If you enjoyed Richard E Grant and Melissa McCarthy as on-the-skids New Yorkers in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, here's an even starrier example of Hollywood poverty porn.

    December 3, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Ed Potton

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Watching "Ironweed" is like having a large, metal object lodged in your brain for 2 1/2 hours. It hurts.

    December 19, 2011 | Full Review…
  • The film becomes becalmed and confusing; it lacks the novel's great unwavering trajectory.

    December 19, 2011 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Unrelentingly bleak, Ironweed is a film without an audience and no reason for being except its own self-importance.

    March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • At last, a real part for Nicholson to sink his teeth into.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Despite its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time, its superstar cast and its $23 million budget, Mr. Babenco's ''Ironweed'' is skeletal, a mere outline of Mr. Kennedy's far more resonant book.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5

Audience Reviews for Ironweed

  • Nov 06, 2016
    It looks like it was made by anyone, since Babenco directs it without any passion or conviction and wastes Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep in a tiring narrative that becomes so unnecessarily long with a lot of scenes that could have been cut without any damage to the story.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 04, 2013
    Nicholson and Streep simply just can't do it. What a tragedy for the finest actors of their generation. The script writer is at fault as this film bobs and weaves out of the control of its leads.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2013
    Good cast promises and performances and an absorbing 30s environment wasted by lack of character's background exploration. It touched interesting concepts. Allow me to highlight the schizophrenia one. It is precisely because of the problem I mentioned that the (scary and) emotional impact that Francis' visions are supposed to have feel flat and unexplained. In the end, it came out as a random element that could have been excluded. On the other hand, certain flashbacks were engaging and felt like richer in content, but were abruptly cut. It's like trying to pee in peace and constantly getting interrupted so you can never finish. But as a final line, I'd like this to remain: Ironweed does not deserve to be ignored with the intensity it is today. 67/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 25, 2011
    I wasn't a fan. The acting was good, but the story was very depressing and a little slow-moving.
    Erin C Super Reviewer

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