Angela's Ashes

Angela’s Ashes

Angela's Ashes

par Guide Irlande

Angela’s Ashes is a film by Alan Parker, whose story is an adaptation of the autobiographical book by Frank McCourt, an American-Irish writer who spent his youth in Ireland. The film recounts her miserable childhood on the streets of Limerick, torn apart by an alcoholic and unemployed father, and a mother willing to do anything to help her family make a living…

Summary of the film Angela’s Ashes

The autobiographical story of a miserable childhood on the streets of Limerick

1935. The McCourt family lives in America, in the Brooklyn area. The couple, formed by Angela McCourt and Malachy Senior, has 4 sons and a daughter, including little Frank McCourt, who will later write his autobiography.

Already overwhelmed by debt, the family lost their daughter, who was only 7 weeks old at the time. Mad with grief and destitute, the McCourt family decides to leave America and return to Ireland, at a time when poverty is at its worst on the island.

Angela, the mother, has family, and hopes to find in her a saving support. But the reception is still very cold. So the McCourt family moves to a slum in Limerick, where the sanitary conditions are the most appalling. Due to dampness, dirt and malnutrition, the McCourt couple lost two of their sons: twins Eugene and Oliver.

Then comes the question of finding the money to survive… The husband, Malachy, seems unable and too cowardly to find work, and spends most of his unemployment income at the pub, on a few pints of Irish beer… Angela, his wife, then begs, and asks her husband to leave for England to find work… Meanwhile, it is up to Frank McCourt to help his family to survive, even though he has only one dream : to leave this nightmare to go to America…

Our Opinion

A portrait of Ireland’s darkest days

The film paints a most disturbing portrait of Ireland, lifting the veil on the prevailing misery of those years… The film tackles various themes, including religion, alcoholism and social discrimination… The McCourt family, accumulates troubles, debts, and illnesses, by dint of being parked in a wet and dirty ghetto where it is impossible to find a job…

Father McCourt’s recurrent alcoholism is only one of the symptoms of a sick and bled Irish woman who can no longer cope with a socially unstable situation.

A film in 3 acts where Frank McCourt moves step by step…

The film revolves around 3 major eras: the first is when Frank McCourt is 5, 10 and then 15 years old. From the very first act, Frank McCourt shows himself to be too mature for his age: poverty has already taken away his innocence, and he doesn’t hesitate to relieve his parents by taking care of his brothers and sisters himself.

At the age of 10, Frank McCourt discovers school, strict religious education, made of physical punishment and moral humiliation. He also discovers his love for literature, and already develops a certain talent for writing. He watches helplessly as his father acts, unable to hold down a job, and too selfish to dare to beg…

At the age of 15, Frank McCourt sees his father abandon the marital home, and thus cowardly abandon his mother and brothers. So he decides to work, initially in the coal industry, then as a postman… His mother assists him as much as she can, but only to a limited extent…

From then on, McCourt dreams of independence, of America, and of earning enough money to buy a one-way ticket to New York…

A prestigious cast

We can only salute the performances of Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty) and Emily Watson, who form the McCourt couple on screen. We see the duo slowly tearing themselves apart over sensitive issues such as money, work, and the alcoholic impulses of Father McCourt, who is far too overwhelmed by events to find a job and feed his own family.

We also salute the performance of the 3 children playing Frank McCourt during the 3 acts of the film. Their interpretation rings true and shakes us from beginning to end.


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