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Agnes Browne

The movie Agnes Browne was based on the book The Mammy.

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Movie details for Agnes Browne

The movie was released in 1999. Agnes Browne was produced by Polygram USA Video. More information on the movie is available on Amazon.com and also IMDb.

Actors on this movie include Arno Chevrier, Sean Fox, Jennifer Gibney, Tom Jones, Gavin Kelty, James Lappin, Chrissie McCreery, Pauline McCreery, Gerard McSorley, Gareth O'Connor, Marion O'Dwyer, Niall O'Shea, Ciaran Owens, Carl Power, Mark Power, June Rodgers, Richie Walker, Roxanna Williams and Ray Winstone.

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Anjelica Huston meant only to direct this working-class fairy tale, but took on the titular role when the original lead dropped out. Adapted from stand-up comic Brendan O'Carrol's first novel, The Mammy, the story of Agnes Browne takes place in 1960s Dubl... Read More
Anjelica Huston meant only to direct this working-class fairy tale, but took on the titular role when the original lead dropped out. Adapted from stand-up comic Brendan O'Carrol's first novel, The Mammy, the story of Agnes Browne takes place in 1960s Dublin, where the newly widowed Browne bravely deals with too little money and too many (seven) kids. She's supported through her troubles by her best friend (Marion O'Dwyer); a goofy-faced, adoring French baker (Arno Chevrier); the aforementioned brood--and her dream of one day meeting Tom Jones (materializing conveniently to belt out "She's a Lady"). Ray Winstone (superb in Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth) plays local loan shark as nasty ogre, the one rotten spot in a neighborhood so whimsically benign it makes Capra's Bedford Falls look downright unfriendly.

Having grown up in Galway, Huston should be no stranger to Gaelic life. And her first film, Bastard Out of Carolina, showed a willingness to plumb the darkest recesses of the human heart. But Agnes Browne, all unearned sweetness and light, is feel-good soap opera tricked up as an Irishwoman's "feminist" bid for independence. Too often, Huston generates smiles out of quaint-Irish caricature: giggling over "organisms"--orgasms!--Agnes and her benighted pal later wonder whether breast cancer comes from having had two in a lifetime. After a surfeit of "Jaysuses" and pub sing-alongs, you yearn for the sharp comedy of Roddy Doyle's reality-based Dublin stories, such as The Snapper or The Commitments. If you fell for the ethnic hilarity of Waking Ned Devine, you'll love Agnes Browne's Hollywood hokum about an Ireland that never was. --Kathleen Murphy

Book details for The Mammy

The Mammy was written by Brendan O'Carroll. The book was published in 1994 by Plume. More information on the book is available on Amazon.com.

 

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It seems like there's no end to Irish tales depicting unhappy, squalid childhoods in crowded, working-class flats. While Brendan O'Carroll's The Mammy maintains many elements of the traditional genre--the saintly, overworked mother, the Catholic family ... Read More
It seems like there's no end to Irish tales depicting unhappy, squalid childhoods in crowded, working-class flats. While Brendan O'Carroll's The Mammy maintains many elements of the traditional genre--the saintly, overworked mother, the Catholic family with an enormous posse of children and any number of abusive alcoholic fathers--it's a somewhat cheerier vision of Irish youth than we've come to expect. The mammy in question, one Agnes Browne, has enough spunk to look after her brood of seven, run a fruit stand at the local open market, gossip viciously with her best friend Marion, and still daydream about dancing with a famous singer.

This is in large part due to the fact that her husband, Redser, who falls squarely into the above-mentioned category, has died--thanks to a careless driver--just before the novel's opening pages. Our first glimpse of the pragmatic, lovable Agnes comes as she's waiting in the social services office on the afternoon of his death, determined not to lose a penny of her widow's benefits as a result of dilly-dallying. She doesn't even have the necessary death certificate yet, but that's not nearly enough to slow down Agnes Brown: "No, love, he's definitely dead. Definitely," she says to the clerk, then, turning to her friend for backup, "Isn't he, Marion?" Marion, made from the same tough stock, agrees solemnly: "Absolutely. I know him years, and I've never seen him look so bad. Dead, definitely dead!" The scene is emblematic: Agnes knows how to fight, and she isn't afraid to do it. Her deadpan humor becomes a hallmark.

As for her children, they get into the usual trouble--fights, girl problems, and the like. But there are also some charming, unexpected episodes in the book. For example, Agnes's oldest child meets a Jewish man and performs small tasks for him on the Sabbath, which eventually leads to greater goods. Among other things, Mark learns about the Jewish faith, new knowledge he accepts with bemusement and some of his mother's innocence and good humor. Upon hearing that the man doesn't celebrate Christmas, he exclaims: "Will yeh go on outta that! How can yeh not believe in something when it's real?"

The book is not without its share of tragedy, but Agnes takes it all with aplomb. She's clearly the glue that binds her pack of youngsters together: "The rule in the Browne family was: 'You hit one, you hit seven.' Since March twenty-ninth and Redser's demise, little had changed in the Browne house. If anything, the house was less tense." The Mammy is a slight book--it tells the simple, fairly conventional tale of a single Irish family--but it makes up for its gaps with humanity, in the same way Agnes Browne makes up for what she and her children lack. --Melanie Rehak