Ironweed Review

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Francis Phelan is a drunken ex-baseball star bumming around diggin graves in a New York cemetery. He and partner-in-drunk, longtime girlfriend, former singer Helen Archer share a miserable existence together in which death surrounds them.


Scripted by William Kennedy from his own book, helmed by Oscar-winning director Hector Babenco and starring Jack Nicholson and a mannered Meryl Streep (in support, cult singer Tom Waits is, however, excellent), this two-hours-plus movie had hardly a prayer of making back its $27 million budget, being about guilt-ridden winos shuffling from flop to flop in Depression-era upstate New York.

Though both melodramatic and sepulchrally slow, it is not without humour, mostly courtesy Jack reprising the complex characterisations of the early 70s. Down yet not out for the count, his Francis Phelan is a loser you can cheer for.

Good performances, but If you're looking for an uplifting tale of hope against despair, look elsewhere.