Release date25 December 1999 (1999-12-25) Based onAngelas Ashes
by Frank McCourt WriterFrank McCourt (book), Laura Jones (screenplay), Alan Parker (screenplay) Initial releaseDecember 25, 1999 (New York City) CastEmily Watson (Angela McCourt), Robert Carlyle (Malachy McCourt), Joe Breen (Young Frank), Michael Legge (Older Frank), Ciaran Owens (Middle Frank), J.J. Murphy (St. Vincent Man #2) Similar moviesGoodfellas, Si le vent soulève les sables, It's Winter, Barren Lives, Bringing Out the Dead, The Brave
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Angela's Ashes is a 1999 drama film based on the memoir of the same name by Frank McCourt. An international co-production between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, it was co-written and directed by Alan Parker, and stars Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens, and Michael Legge, the latter three playing the Young, Middle and Older Frank McCourt respectively.
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Angela's Ashes tells the story of Frank McCourt and his childhood after his family are forced to move from the United States back to Ireland because of financial difficulties and family problems caused by his father's alcoholism. The film chronicles young McCourt's life in Limerick, Ireland, during his childhood in the 1930s and 1940s, the difficulties that arose, and Frank's way of earning enough money to return to the land of his dreams: America.
Although set in Limerick, many street scenes were filmed in Cork. For example, the 'fleas in the mattress' scene was filmed at Farren Street, Blackpool and other scenes were shot at Roche's Buildings, Lower John Street and Barrack Street.
With an estimated $25 million budget, the film grossed $13,042,112 in the US, making it a box office bomb.
Angela's Ashes currently holds a 52% 'rotten' rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, and the 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" (though the audience rating is considerably higher, at 82%.) However, Michael Legge was praised for his portrayal of the adolescent Frank. In particular, he was said to excel in his role as an innocent teenager growing up with typical coming of age rites involving sexuality, maturity and peer pressure in a Catholic Irish setting.
Differences from the book
In the book, the opening paragraph describes Angela's upbringing. It tells how Angela's brother Pat became developmentally disabled by being dropped on the ground by Angela's father throwing him in the air, and that Angela's pregnant mother told him to leave, so he "ran out the door and didn't stop till he got to Australia". The film omits this.
In the film, when Angela suggests naming Frank's new brother Alphonsus, and Frank exclaims that it's a stupid name, Aggie smacks the back of Frank's head. In the book, Angela slaps Frank across the face so hard he reels backwards.
In the film, Frank says that Irish dancers look like they have metal rods up their arses, but in the book it is Frank's father who says that.
The end of the film shows Frank sailing past the Statue of Liberty as he arrives in New York City. In the book he lands at Poughkeepsie.
Winner Best Picture – Irish Film and Television Awards
Winner Best Costume Design – Irish Film and Television Awards (Consolata Boyle)
Winner Best Director – Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Audience Award) (Alan Parker)
Winner Best Original Score – Las Vegas Film Critics Society (John Williams)
Winner Best Actress – London Film Critics Circle (Emily Watson)
Nominee Best Original Score – Academy Awards (John Williams)
Nominee Best Original Score – Golden Globes (John Williams)
Nominee Best Actress – BAFTA (Emily Watson)
Nominee Best Cinematography – BAFTA (Michael Seresin)
Nominee Best Production Design – BAFTA (Geoffrey Kirkland)
Nominee Best British Film – Empire Awards
Nominee Best British Actor – Empire Awards (Robert Carlyle)
Nominee Best Actress – Irish Film and Television Awards (Emily Watson)
Nominee Best Actor – Irish Film and Television Awards (Robert Carlyle)
Nominee Newcomer of Year – London Film Critics Circle (Michael Legge)
The film soundtrack was composed and conducted by John Williams, and features songs by Billie Holiday and Sinéad O'Connor. Williams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2000 for his score.