Very Annie Mary

A coming-of-age farce set in Wales (a note to those unaccustomed to the accent: it's thick and you may occasionally long for subtitles) that's enjoyable enough until you start thinking about its rather ludicrous plot contrivances, this is mostly a showcase for the comic talents of Australian actress Rachel Griffiths. Annie-Mary (Griffiths) is a gawky, post-adolescent...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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A coming-of-age farce set in Wales (a note to those unaccustomed to the accent: it's thick and you may occasionally long for subtitles) that's enjoyable enough until you start thinking about its rather ludicrous plot contrivances, this is mostly a showcase for the comic talents of Australian actress Rachel Griffiths. Annie-Mary (Griffiths) is a gawky, post-adolescent Welsh girl who once dreamed of being an opera singer. But as the film begins, she's living at home in the charmingly monikered village of Owd with her philandering father, Jack (Jonathan Pryce), a baker and rather gifted tenor who thinks nothing of wearing a Luciano Pavarotti Halloween mask at odd moments. Further straining credulity, Jack is also the kind of dad who has his daughter sleep on his feet when they get cold — the film's unexamined subtexts are probably better left that way. The outcome is clear from the outset: Annie-Mary will spread her wings and fly, trilling as she goes. The plot, which revolves around a scheme to win an amateur talent contest and use the prize money to take Annie-Mary's terminally ill friend Bethan Bevan (Joanna Page) to Disneyland, is basically an extended riff on Owd's eccentric citizens. They include Hob (Ioan Gruffudd, best known to American audiences as TV's Captain Horatio Hornblower) and Nob (Matthew Rhys), the gay guys who run the local deli, and the unlikely women with whom Annie-Mary forms a pop group, with the idea that they'll wow the talent-contest judges by lip-synching to the Village People's "YMCA." There's also a big, sentimental finale where Annie-Mary finally gets to belt out a Puccini aria (her singing voice is provided by soprano Meriel Andrew) at Bethan's funeral. The cast is uniformly excellent — Pryce in simultaneously utterly horrible and a real hoot as the wildly egomaniacal paterfamilias — but the film itself is merely mildly charming. This is, in part, because there are several moments at which Welsh-born actress-turned-writer/director Sara Sugarman seems to exude at least a whiff of (perhaps unconscious) condescension towards her crew of rustic oddballs.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A coming-of-age farce set in Wales (a note to those unaccustomed to the accent: it's thick and you may occasionally long for subtitles) that's enjoyable enough until you start thinking about its rather ludicrous plot contrivances, this is mostly a showcase… (more)

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