That Frank McCourt's memoir of growing up wretchedly poor in Ireland was a best-seller owes much to his tone: wry, self-deprecating, witty and remarkably free of self-pity, given that he and his brothers spent much of their childhoods hungry, cold,
sick and humiliated by spiteful children and feckless adults. Alan Parker's adaptation is meticulous, unsentimental, beautifully acted and uses narration to evoke McCourt's distinctive voice, but nearly two and a half hours worth of dying babies, rain-spattered streets, ragged children and filthy,
bug-infested rooms is a bit oppressive. Born in Brooklyn in 1930, Frank (played by Joe Breen as a child, Ciaran Owens as an a...