Following the international success of the novel, British director Alan Parker (The Commitments, Evita) took on the difficult task of adapting this literary work for the screen and succeeds in bringing the ‘miserable Irish Catholic childhood’ vividly to life. The story tells of young Frank McCourt growing up in the back lanes of a rain-soaked Limerick. Robert Carlyle plays Frank’s father whose drinking causes him to drift in and out of work and keep his family in a state of poverty. His wife Angela (Emily Watson) struggles hard to keep things going. Yet in spite of the hardship, young Frank manages to survive, progressing through school and taking jobs.
The film remains very faithful to the novel throughout and although difficulties occur with conveying the irony with which McCourt tells the story, the director does manage to convey Frank’s sense of exhileration at surviving at all. It offered Parker the chance to work again with young actors and he manages to create some of the film’s most enjoyable moments in the national school.
Director: Alan Parker