When most poor, poverty stricken Irish families were leaving Ireland for the United States in 1935, Angela and Malachy McCourt were doing the opposite, bringing their two sons and 7-week-old daughter back.They have no money after the trip and the alcoholic Malachy blows any chances of charity. The daughter dies and depression is laid on like fog, adding to an already consistent tone that is not appreciated. The majority of the movie is seen from the eldest son’s point of view, Frank (played by three different actors during the stages of adolescence). Some other “incidents” along the way include the birth and death of a least two more children, no income, flooded housing, no lavatories, lots of begging, disease and sickness, etc. Director Alan Parker doesn’t ask you, rather he makes you wallow in pity, false indulgence, and manufactured pathos. In the end you become despondent; there isn’t an ounce of feeling left. Your heart becomes numb, not because you feel for them, but because you feel cheated and manipulated. The movie is gray, both in an emotional register, and the dreary photography by Michael Seresin that looks like the color of ashes. Acting included, added to Parker’s disconnected and lackadaisical direction, the movie is a big zero, a pity raping experience. Who wants to see a movie where the characters repeatedly throw up, die, or spill urine and defecation on themselves before we feel like we’re covered in it too? There is rarely a scene that the sun shines (maybe twice) and that it stops raining, and by that time it has become inevitable and systematic: you know it won’t last for long before another tragedy ensues. Suggestion for a courtesy promotional item on the way out of the movie: a noose.
With Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens and Michael Legge.[Not to be bothered with.]