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Agnes Browne

Rated [R], 92 minutes
Starring Anjelica Huston and Ray Winstone
Screenplay by John Goldsmith and Brendan O'Carroll
Based on O'Carroll's novel "The Mammy"
Directed by Anjelica Huston

IN SHORT: A nice, simple story

(and seen on video at the end of last year, which isn't normal practice for these boards)

Set in the Dublin of 1967, Agnes Browne is a very pleasant portrait of a poor Irish family whose Head of the House doesn't make it to the opening credits. The Widow Browne (Anjelica Huston) has seven children and no money to bury her man, and this is just the beginning of her problems. The union penison won't fork over cash until the death certificate is signed so Agnes borrows 40 quid from the local loanshark, Mr. Billy (Ray Winstone). The shark only wants the exorbitant interest, but when Agnes delivers the full 40 (in addition to 16 more in viggorish) she's made an enemy for life.

His target is Agnes' younger son son, Mark (Niall O'Shea) who is demonstrating signs of a gambling jones. The boy gets in deep, £10 is a lot for a kidlet. Agnes sells a pair of Tom Jones concert tickets that her best friend Marion (Marion O'Dwyer) had purchased (Marion has shuffled off unexpectedly which I won't explain) but she's short. Mr. Billy, citing precedent, says he won't take the vig. He wants the whole enchilada and will bring a truck to take the furniture. But then the penison comes through. The kidlets go off to collect while Agnes tries to stall Mr. Billy. The union guy won't fork over to a kid. The thugs start smashing in. And Santa Claus arrives to make everything all right. Tom Jones plays himself in a play set in 1967.

And we haven't even gotton to the French baker, and new vendor in the street stalls Pierre (Arno Chevrier) who definitely has an eye out for the widow Browne. She wants no dependency, ever again. Will Pierre settle for friendship or will he make like a Frenchman and stomp off muttering accented obscenities under his breath?

Without comparing to the original story, the screenplay is kept very simple. Not a lot of complex substories coming at you simultaneously. I don't know if that was Huston's decision for her sophomore directing effort, or if it was just the way the story laid out. Either way, it's clean and fairly easy to follow, unless thick Irish brogue causes your ears to wither. Cranky loves the Irish. He hangs with Irish. But even I couldn't get through some of the accents in this flick which, for simplicity, and sheer common sense -- I needed that remote control to go back and figure out what I missed (though I don't think it was much) leads to a pay-per-view rating . . .

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Agnes Browne, he would have paid...


It is the real Tom Jones in this cast and he does one song at the finale of the movie. Don't get your panties in a bunch, he's only on the screen !


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