Agnes Browne Movie Review

I'm always skeptical when I see a Hollywood diva trying to look haggard, poor, and malnourished in a film. Everybody knows that in real life they all have personal trainers and special diets along with the best technology has to offer in keeping themselves looking young and beautiful. So in the first five minutes of Anjelica Huston's latest production, Agnes Browne, when her husband has died and left behind seven young children in a poor area of Dublin, Ireland, the first thing I said to myself was, "There's no way that a woman going through this kind of hardship can look that good."

Set in the year 1967, the film follows the struggles of Agnes Brown, (Anjelica Huston) a recent widow battling to keep her irregularly large family intact (six boys and a girl, ranging in age from 2 to 14). In order to give her husband the funeral he deserves, Agnes must borrow money from the menacing loan shark Mr. Billy (Ray Winstone). As she attempts to pay him back in weekly installments, he terrorizes her and her small children at every street corner. To make ends meet, Agnes sells fruit and vegetables on the street along with her best friend Marion Monks (Marion O'Dwyer). The two are inseparable and Marion is, ironically enough, Anjelica's guardian angel, as she brightens Agnes life and helps her in times of desperate need. When Pierre (Arno Chevrier, a Gerard Depardieu look-alike) comes along in the form of a neighborhood French baker and takes an interest in Agnes, sparks fly as she tries to forge a personal life of her own with the possibility of newfound love, all while dealing with the nuisance of seven hellion children.

Despite the fact that Agnes looks way too spry and luminous despite struggling for money and food, Huston puts together a credible product as both director and star. While the story is slow in developing and easily predictable, the humor and characters overshadow these flaws and make the film enjoyable. Huston adds a strange blend of humor into the dramatic mix that adds a pleasant overtone to a dire and often tear jerking situation. Especially noteworthy is O'Dwyer, who not only looks the part of a poor Irish gal, but also emotes the meaning of true friendship in a wonderful supporting performance.

The film get three stars because by the time it was over, I had forgotten what time of day it was. Translation: I had become so engrossed that I was emotionally attached to the characters by the film's conclusion. This is a good sign, so if you're in the mood for something poignant, this film is for you.


Comments

Agnes Browne Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 1999

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