Agnes Browne

on December 03, 1999 by Ed Scheid
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"Agnes Browne," the second film directed by Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston, is set in 1967 Dublin and is based on the best-selling Irish novel "The Mammy." Unlike her directorial debut, the TV film "Bastard Out of Carolina," in which she did not appear, Huston, who spent her childhood in Ireland, directs herself in the title role.
Agnes has been recently widowed with seven children. To pay for her husband's funeral, she must borrow from the local loan shark Mr. Billy ("Nil by Mouth's" Ray Winstone), which further increases her debts. Agnes tries to make ends meet by selling produce at a market stand. Life for Agnes and her children is a constant financial struggle, and is further complicated when one of the sons takes after his father and gambles with the loan shark. For Agnes, a ticket to a sold-out concert from visiting star Tom Jones seems like an unbelievable dream, and she is amazed when a French baker (Arno Chevrier) takes a romantic interest in her.
Huston's direction is better paced than in "Bastard." As in that film, she gets strong performances from her cast, and Huston herself gives an accomplished performance as the feisty Agnes. Her best moments are with Marion O'Dwyer as her best friend, especially in quiet scenes full of affection and unexpressed emotions. And Winstone is a sinister presence in his brief role of the loan shark.
The screenplay-co-written by Brendan O'Carroll, author of the original novel-mixes humor and sadness, but often gives too neat resolutions to the problems Agnes and her family encounter. Even Tom Jones (playing himself) shows up to help out. However, Huston creates such a likable central character that she makes up for the over-sentimentality of the story. Starring Anjelica Huston, Marion O'Dwyer, Ray Winstone and Arno Chevrier. Directed by Anjelica Huston. Written by John Goldsmith and Brendan O'Carroll. Produced by Jim Sheridan, Arthur Lappin, Anjelica Huston and Greg Smith. A USA Films release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 91 min
Tags: Dwyer, Ray Winstone and Arno Chevrier. Directed by Anjelica Huston. Written by John Goldsmith and Brendan O, Starring Anjelica Huston, Marion OCarroll. Produced by Jim Sheridan, Arthur Lappin, Anjelica Huston, Greg Smith, USA, Drama
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