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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Very Annie Mary (review)

Is Rachel Griffiths a plain woman whose talent fools us into thinking she’s beautiful, or a beautiful woman so talented she’s not afraid of looking plain? Either way, Griffiths (The Rookie) secures her place as a goddess with this slice of bittersweet British tweeness from filmmaker Sara Sugarman. Annie Mary Pugh is the diametric opposite of Griffiths’ caustic and blackly funny Brenda on Six Feet Under — dowdy, meek, capped with Princess Leia hair buns and shod in hideous sandals, Annie Mary has seen her dreams of being an opera singer crushed by terrible circumstance… and by her overbearing, domineering father, Jack (Jonathan Pryce: The Affair of the Necklace). Under his thumb and never more cowed by him than when she tries to break free, Annie Mary dwells in a her own little world, one entirely contained within the tiny Welsh village of Ogw, one that doesn’t extend much beyond singing lessons with the local gay couple — Ioan Gruffudd and Matthew Rhys in a hilarious cameo, belting out tunes from Annie Get Your Gun — and hanging with her teenage friend, Bethan Bevan (Joanna Page: From Hell), who seems to be the only one not bothered that she, Bethan, is dying of cancer. Sugarman pulls off what only the British seem able to do on film: juxtapose the oddly humorous with death and tragedy and make it feel funny and strange like real life is: you laugh when you want to cry sometimes, and cry when you should be laughing.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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