From Ireland, this looks like yet another Hangover-style stag-night comedy, but the script has surprising depth to it, and even the sillier characters find some resonance as the events spiral into the requisite chaos. So while the movie's gross-out humour feels utterly contrived, there's meaning behind it. And the relationships between the central characters are remarkably complex.
The groom is theatre designer Fionnan (O'Conor), who is driving his fiancee Ruth (Huberman) crazy by being too-interested in planning the wedding. So she asks his best man Davin (Scott) to plan a stag getaway. They decide to go on a camping trip with Fionnan's brother (Legge) and his partner (Bennett), plus their friend Simon (Gleeson). But they fail in their efforts to avoid inviting Ruth's intense brother The Machine (McDonald). And sure enough, he takes over the weekend, causing abject mayhem at every turn as their casual hike becomes a series of frantic adventures.
The sharp actors create characters who are realistic and, for the most part, likeable. The exception is The Machine, and McDonald plays him mercilessly, chomping madly on the scenery. It's an over-the-top performance that constantly throws us outside the movie until we begin to see the man underneath the crazed bravado. But he causes the other guys to do inexplicable things as well, which sparks a reaction in us and allows for a bit of depth, especially for Scott in the meatiest role.
Continue reading: The Stag Review
Fionnan is the sensitive sort who's filled with excitement about his upcoming nuptials to partner Ruth. He's a nervous perfectionist who wants everything to be just right when the day comes, but makes no secret about his aversion to a traditional stag do of wild antics and drinking. When Ruth insists best man Davin take him on an outdoor adventure up a mountain for their bachelor's weekend, Fionnan is horrified but eventually agrees that he may enjoy a trek in the great outdoors. However, it is soon revealed that Ruth's insane brother nicknamed The Machine will be joining Fionnan and his friends - a fact that even makes Davin consider calling off their adventure. Instead, he attempts to deter him from coming along with a weird voicemail but, alas, he makes his presence known as he repeatedly brings trouble raining down on them on their journey.
Continue: The Stag - Clips
It's usually the bride that enjoys organising every little detail for their wedding, but in Ruth and Fionnan's relationship, planning the nuptials has become the only thing that guarded perfectionist Fionnan thinks about. However, concerned about his increasing seriousness and his hatred of adventure, Ruth enlists his best friend Davin to organise a stag night on a mountain. Fionnan eventually warms to the idea of a wildlife trek. that is until Ruth mentions that her ruthless brother The Machine is coming along too. Coping with The Machine becomes an uphill struggle when he throws away the stag group's compass and gets them lost, sets their tent on fire and insists on a nude streak through the woodland that almost gets them shot. But is he a blessing in disguise for strait-laced Fionnan, who may find this trip more of a milestone than a stag?
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The title: Angela's Ashes refers to cigarettes and not cremation. If someone had told me this before I had entered the film, I might have enjoyed it more than I did. Then again, if someone had told me about the rest of the film, I might have asked for a final cigarette before going in to Angela's Ashes.
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Enter Vincent (Allen Leech), a charismatic and thoroughly winning gay fashion student who Shane vaguely knew back at school. The two bump into each other in town, join forces for the flat hunt, and eventually find a nice place with plenty of room for Vincent's extensive vintage wardrobe.
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Over instantly bleak and rainy establishing shots of the potholed cobblestone streets and muddy back alleys of a crumbling tenement row in 1930s Limerick, Ireland, "Angela's Ashes" opens with a quote from Frank McCourt, the author whose mega-best selling memoir is the basis of the film:
"When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how my brothers and I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."
Brother, he ain't kiddin'. In the first 20 minutes of the picture, three of young Frank's infant siblings have died, his irresponsible drunk of a father (Robert Carlyle) has squandered the family's dole money, his mom (Emily Watson) has gone begging to the St. Vincent DePaul for food, clothing and furniture, and the kids have stood outside the coal plant waiting for delivery trucks to go by so they can pick up spilled remnants of the black fuel to heat their crumbling, frequently flooded, two-room home -- which is located adjacent to the drain where the entire street dumps out their chamber pots.
Continue reading: Angela's Ashes Review
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