"Angela's Ashes" is a memoir of author Frank McCourt's painful and poverty-stricken childhood. It is a bittersweet story that takes place in 1935 when the sudden death of their first baby girl sends Angela; her unemployed, alcoholic husband, Malachy, and their four malnourished small children from New York back to their homeland in Limerick, Ireland, in hopes of a steady job for Malachy.
The family lives in filth and hunger in a small, cold, damp, smelly and insect-infested apartment. All in all, the movie has an amazing story but is not exactly a pick-me-upper. The movie is poignant but also has some funny moments.
Young Frank, the oldest of the six boys, shines in this film. He doggedly finds work to support his family when his father spends his salary at the pub. Frank McCourt recollects every aspect of his child and boyhood beautifully. He explores the shame that comes along with poverty and his alcoholic father, but remains perhaps the strongest character.
The family has a total of seven children (three of them die when they are very young) but the family's strong faith helps them through it. It is a constant fight to have food on the table and clothes to wear. The young children are usually naked or wearing scraps and crying because they are so hungry, but since they are so young, they find enjoyment in the little games Frank plays with them to pass the time.
Robert Carlyle plays the father and leaves you with mixed feelings about his character. While he has an excessive drinking problem and can't support his family with a job, his charisma brightens the dirty apartment and his spirits are usually high. He never fails to bring a smile to his children's faces and he truly tries to stay away from the pub because he loves his family. However, when the day is done, he usually comes home to his starving family drunk and trying to explain to his wife and his little Frank why he drank the money.
All the actors are outstanding, but Emily Watson is the gem of this movie. She illuminates the role of Angela, the sometimes depressed but ever-strong mother. I'm sure when the Oscar nominations are announced, Watson will be on the list. She is the glue that holds her family together and keeps the kids in line. She gives an amazingly real performance that makes the movie that much better.
Director Alan Parker brings the book to life with vibrancy and passion. He is miraculously able to capture the emotion of this Pulitzer Prize-winning book in this unforgettable film. McCourt said, " 'Angela's Ashes' is the perfect realization of my book on film. It is everything I could have hoped for and imagined. I sing its praises." I highly recommend this movie. You will laugh, you might cry, but above all, you will enjoy this story because it is heartfelt, real and enchanting. A beautiful book has been brilliantly brought to life.
Lindsey Daigler is a freshman at Kenmore East High School.