Very Annie Mary (2001) – movie review

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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Rachel Griffiths, Jonathan Pryce, Ioan Gruffudd

Director: Sara Sugarman

Probably best described as a sort of comedy drama, VERY ANNIE MARY is set in a small village in Wales and predictably concerns the title character, Annie Mary (Rachel Griffiths), who is trying to break free from the hold her widowed father has over her while living in an equally small-minded community.

Annie Mary lives with her father who uses her as a human doormat. She wants to leave but her father has a stroke and Annie Mary not only has to look after him but also tries to run the family bakery, only she can’t bake bread. There is also a fundraising event that the village, including Annie Mary, is involved in to raise money for a terminally ill young girl, who is very close to her. These events form the background to a film, which plays on the constant misfortunes of the character to raise laughs.

The trouble is the laughter is uncomfortable. The events without the humour are sad and depressing. Every time Annie Mary succeeds in something she is knocked back down even further than where she started, sometimes through the nastiness of others.

There is one genuinely funny sequence involving a Pavarotti impersonation halfway through, but otherwise it is only the quality performance of the actors that keeps the film bearable.

Why is it that so many UK productions these days seem to think that to achieve realism they have to give their characters no, or at least very little hope? Characters saving pennies in a hand-decorated, old shoe box or the highlight of someone’s life is being a weekly bottle of gin and a singalong with a couple of friends.

Not all the UK, whether it’s England, Scotland or Wales is like that. There is a modern society, even some with hope existing in the UK although you would never know it from films like this. Some will think this a charming little film. A comedy? Well, I don’t enjoy laughing at hardships like the ones depicted here.

1 out of 6 stars