Angela Mooney Dies Again (1997): Starring Mia Farrow

(Irish Comedy-Drama)

Galway Film Fest 1997–Mia Farrow gives such a disturbingly intense performance in Angela Mooney Dies Again, a bitter-sweet, melancholy look at the forces of modernization as they affect a small rural Irish community, that she overshadows the film’s comic tones.

Sloppy direction by neophyte Tom McArdle and too many changes in mood result in an unsatisfying film that will have limited appeal outside Ireland, despite its name cast of Farrow and Patrick Bergin.

Angela Mooney (Farrow), an attractive, middle-aged, unhappily married woman, is about to commit a suicide again. Every time Angela attempts suicide, her audience gets larger and larger. This time around promises a particularly significant public as the threatened suicide is “inspired” by the takeover of the local milk creamery by an American company called “Little Rooster Corporation.”

Set on the day of celebration, with the whole town preparing for and rallying behind the event, the hysterical Angela is determined to convince her fellow residents that the takeover is wrong, not only because it destroys the efforts of her hubby Barney (Brendan Gleeson), who has worked hard to build the creamery with the locals, but also for its destructive effect on the town’s distinctive look, its charming pastoral roots.

Through flashbacks, it quickly becomes clear that Angela has never reconciled her first love to a young Scottish soldier, Malone (Alan Devine), with whom she had her first passionate sexual experience. It was the handsome Malone who first instilled in the young Angela (Lisa O’Reilly), her ideals and visions. However, brutally expelled from town, Malone had not only broken her heart, but later left for a business career in the U.S. As often happens in such fables, it’s the older Malone (Patrick Bergin), who’s the guest of honor, returning to town as a rich, elegantly dressed mogul.

The story begins as a broad comedy, with frantic preparations for the festivity involving every town member, from the priest to the entertainment manager. For a while, the film’s robust humor and enchanting mood bear resemblance to Local Hero, Bill Forsyth’s off-kilter comedy about the efforts of an oil company to buy up a Scottish coastal village. But helmer McArdle can’t mollify the film’s dual theme, the pain of first love and the inevitable march of modern technology. He’s also unsuccessful at integrating the tale’s serio and comic elements, resulting in a film that literally changes tones from scene to scene.

In the central–and weakest–sequence, Angela is in the river, making one last desperate effort to talk the citizenry out of their folly. The interaction between her and various representatives of the village is so poorly staged and tediously cut that the film never recovers from it. The ending, intercutting Angela’s death in an ambulance with old Malone departing town in his private helicopter, is downbeat, negating the quirky drollery that judiciously prevailed the first reel.

Credits

A Merlin Films Group production. Produced by Kieran Corrigan. Executive producer, John Boorman. Directed by Tommy McArdle. Screenplay, Tommy and John McArdle Camera (Rank, color), Seamus Deasy; editor, Ron Davis; art direction, Sabine D’Argent; sound (Dolby), Roger Stevenson; assistant director, Jeremiah Cullinane; production manager, Brian Kelly.
Running time: 90 min.

Cast

Angela Mooney…….Mia Farrow
Barney Mooney..Brendan Gleeson
Young Angela…..Lisa O’Reilly
Young Malone…….Alan Devine
Older Malone….Patrick Bergin
Dunner……………Pat Short
Chaplin…………..Jon Kenny
Nancy…………Lesley Conroy