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Very Annie Mary
Very Annie Mary
Actors: Rachel Griffiths, Jonathan Pryce, Ioan Gruffudd, Matthew Rhys, Kenneth Griffith
Director: Sara Sugarman
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2004     1hr 44min

The myth of the eccentric Englishman (or woman) is given a cinematic boost by the awkwardly hysterical VERY ANNIE MARY, a tale of a young Welsh woman's stumbling struggle to proclaim her independence and strike out on her ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Rachel Griffiths, Jonathan Pryce, Ioan Gruffudd, Matthew Rhys, Kenneth Griffith
Director: Sara Sugarman
Creators: Barry Ackroyd, Sara Sugarman, Robin Sales, Damian Jones, Graham Broadbent, Lesley Stewart
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Musicals
Studio: KOCH LORBER FILMS
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic,Enhanced
DVD Release Date: 03/09/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 44min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic,Enhanced
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A Love Song to Life
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 09/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Very Annie Mary took me by shock and delightful surprise.

Rachel Griffiths (Hillary to Emily Watson's Jacqueline Du Pre) gives her
finest performance to date - and though the film is 3 years old Griffiths
hasn't as yet done anything quite as satisfying as her brilliant turn here as
Annie Mary.

33 year old, Annie comes off as mildly retarded, and, in the purest sense
of the word, is, since life was pretty much over for her at 15. That's when
Annie Mary, who's dream was to be an opera singer, won a national vocal
competition judged by Pavarotti. The Great Tenor told her she would have a
marvelous career, and awarded her the grand prize, a grant to study full
time study in Milan.

Unfortunately, that same week, her mother took ill, died. Her dreams
dashed, Annie is forced to take her mother's place at home. Her father
accomplishes his means of keeping Annie underfoot (disturbingly, and at one
point, literally) by constant humiliation of his daughter, reminding her
she isn't special, she isn't, in fact, anything at all.

As Pugh, her father, Jonathan Pryce is terrific: selfish, cold hearted and
almost two decades after he's shattered her dreams, the man still berates
as " talentless, useless, stupid, slovenly . . . what man would ever have
you?" Oh yeah, Dad forces her to dress in his dead mother's shapeless,
matronly shifts as he constantly regaling Annie of how beautiful her mother
was.

The film opens with Pryce singing Puccini's Nessun Dorma through mounted
speakers atop his bakery delivery truck as he steers through the Welsh
countryside as "The Voice of the Valleys". As the camera pulls in, we
see "The Voice of the Valley" in a rubber Pavarotti mask and a Pavarotti
sized tuxedo. And we get the entire aria. If for nothing else, this
opening scene is worth the price of the film. And it only gets better from
there!

While not slapstick Griffiths' Annie Mary is prone toward extreme
clumsiness - moving (especially when running) like an excited 5 year old,
all stiff arms and awkwardness. She's adorable. Clumsiness leads to minor
accidents, falling down stairs, running into doors - each moment hilarious
yet making ugly duckling even more endearing. Annie teaches voice lessons
and we get to see her in action as she instructs a young gay couple with a
dream to go to America and, star with Dolly Parton in "Annie Get Your
Gun." Amazing.

The heart of the film centers around Annie's relationship the villagers and
her best friend, Bethan, a bedridden teenager half her age. The villager's
wish for Bethan is to send her to Disneyland, however her own true and only
wish is to, at least once, hear Annie sing.

Through an unlikely series of events - including a talent competition, a
bouncing Pavarotti, the Village People, the Welsh Grand National Horserace
and the entire village turning against Annie) Bethan - and the village -
finally get to hear Annie Mary find her voice again. It is a magical moment
blending, forgiveness, hope, pathos and Puccini, as Annie Mary finds not
only her voice, but the strength to carry on.

Very Annie Mary is easily one of the most joyous DVD discoveries I've yet
made.
"
Need to know South Wales to fully appreciate....
Milo | Eastern Canada | 02/20/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This was a blast of nostalgia for me since I spent many childhood vacations in a Welsh coal mining valley. The Welsh are an underated nation. Their coarse and pithy humor rides on lilting voices that are interspersed with fat vowels and accentuated syllables. Their hearts are pure gold, hence one of the main plots of the story, a village pulls together to raise money to send a sick little girl on a trip to Disneyland. Unfortunately, the idea seems more a Holy Grail in their own minds, since little Bethan really has no desire to spend her last days in the arms of Mickey Mouse. The concurrent plot, is the conflict between Annie Mary and her dad. He is a dour and overbearing village baker who makes her life a misery, until he has a stroke and becomes a sad and helpless doll to be carelessly carted around by Annie. I should add at this point that I was amazed at Rachel Griffiths' command of the Welsh dialect. I didn't believe it was her until I checked the credits. Super eccentric performance with a believable accent... very impressive. The rest of the movie is one of those lovely quirky low key ramblings, full of odd characters and bizarre situations. If you know Wales, you will know the characters and will smile with affection. Not an oscar winner, but a sweet little view of a working class community in a beautiful land. Treat your jaded palate to something simple."
Are Welsh people this nutty? YES!
Milo | 04/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I saw this film in the cinema on a visit home to Wales and couldn't wait for the dvd release. After a long wait I bought it on video in the UK and brought it back to the States. All of my British friends (and even some American ones)liked it but the Welsh ones love it. As crazy as the characters are, they are all recognizable. My favourites are Hinge, Minge and Bracket the village people wannabees. Wales is so overlooked and although I realize that this isn't going to do it many favours it will hopefully entertain. I wish that Sara Sugarman's short film "Valley Girls" was included as an extra on the dvd as that is 45 minutes of pure enjoyment."
A Little Town in South Wales is Bursting with Life and Stori
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"VERY ANNIE MARY is a quirky little film written and directed by Sara Sugarman that manages to delve into myriad fantasies and manners and crushed dreams and come out with a thoroughly tender, warm hearted and funny result. There are more interesting characters of all types in this story, each of whom could be expanded into a film all their own.

After a rollicking opening sequence of a bakery delivery van topped with speakers blasting Puccini's 'Nessun dorma' over lovely countryside of Wales - the driver is the town baker Jack Pugh (Jonathan Pryce) who wears a rubber mask and bloated suit that mimic Pavarotti singing along with a recording - we meet the town folk. Jack's daughter Annie Mary (Rachel Griffiths) is in her 30s, stuck as a surrogate wife and slave to her father and his bakery business. She seems loopy and perhaps retarded (socially indeed, if not a bit mentally) and has borne the brunt of her father's scorn since her mother died when she was fifteen, just when Annie had won a singing competition judged by Pavarotti. The loss of her mother places her in the role of 'wife' to the dastardly John who daily convinces her she is a nothing while he pursues his avocation of singing for the townsfolk as the Voice of the Valley. Annie's only remnant of her past survives in her teaching voice lessons to such odd folk as Hob (Ioan Gruffudd) and Nob (Matthew Rhys), gay friends of hers with delusions of Hollywood. Her closest friend is teenage Bethan (Joanna Page) who is ill.

Annie Mary spies a house on the market, desperately wants to get out from under her father's control to make a life of her own, and shares this with Bethan. During one of his concerts John collapses with a stroke and it appears Annie's dreams of independence are crushed. The townsfolk decide they want to befriend Bethan and monies are gathered to send Bethan on her 'dream' - a trip to Disneyland. In a hilarious talent show meant to raise funds for the Disneyland trip Annie and her friends win the contest and the money meant for Bethan's trip is entrusted to Annie. Annie again stumbles and squanders the funds on her own dreams by buying sensual satisfaction. Broken by her own mistake, Annie confesses to Bethan and Bethan replies that her only dream before dying is to hear Annie sing. And sing Annie does, in probably the most touching performance of Puccini's 'O mio bambino caro'. At last Annie Mary has regained her self-respect and has a glimpse of her own life. The closing multiple resolutions of the film are full of surprises of the best kind.

Every character in this delightful film is well acted, but there are moments by some, like the very weird, besotted minister (Kenneth Griffith), that certainly deserve awards for brilliance.
VERY ANNIE MARY is a rich, multilayered, magical film with outstanding performances by Rachel Griffiths and Jonathan Pryce. The only fault one might find is that much of the dialogue is indecipherable due to the Welsh accents that challenge the ear! Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 05"