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Poor, Pitiful Me

Even the great Alan Parker can't save Angela's Ashes from sappy self-absorption

Legge, as the third Frank, delivers some of the film's toughest scenes, pummeling himself over his lust and guilt for Theresa Carmody (Kerry Condon), a lovely young lady on his telegram route who is stricken with consumption. As Frank edges into manhood, and Angela keeps compromising herself to keep her family alive, the story comes full circle. Watson, to her credit, maintains Angela's balance as a woman who has every right to feel sorry for herself and collapse, but doesn't. In response to her husband's amorous demands, she calmly responds: "As long as there are no more children, eternal damnation sounds just fine to me." When dignity is removed, there is nothing left but will.

Clotheslined: Joe Breen gets taunted for his tattered wardrobe as young Frank McCourt.
David Appleby
Clotheslined: Joe Breen gets taunted for his tattered wardrobe as young Frank McCourt.

Angela's Ashes is a sharp and pungent distillation of the book. However, as far as the theme of childhood under duress goes, I found My Life as a Dog or the stridently Irish Into the West to be significantly more fulfilling. Parker's adaptation wants not for guts or heart, but McCourt's passionate ramblings, so adored on the page, prove a bit unwieldy for the screen.

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