How did this one escape me? While I've seen the film on the cable grid before, I actually never bothered to watch the 1987 drama "Ironweed" until this weekend.
And boy, should I have. Dunno how this one managed to escape me. It stars Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by William Kennedy.
It centers on the relationship of a homeless alcoholic couple: Francis, a washed up vagrant and Helen (Streep), a terminally ill woman during the Great Depression. Both Nicholson and Streep earned Oscar nominations for their roles. An added bonus? The film co-stars Tom Waits!!
The film (and book's) central protagonist is Francis Phelan, a boozy vagrant originally from Albany, New York, who walked out on his family after accidentally killing his infant son while he may have been drunk. "Ironweed" focuses on his return to Albany, and the narrative is fueled by hallucinations of the three people whom he killed in the past.
Here's the book's official description:
Wandering into Albany, New York, Phelan seeks out his lover and drinking companion, Helen Archer (Meryl Streep). The two meet up in a mission managed by Reverend Chester (James Gammon), and later in Oscar Reo's (Fred Gwynne) gin mill. Over the next few days, Phelan takes a few minor jobs to support his habit, haunted by visions of his past.
A chance for a reconciliation with his wife Annie Phelan (Carroll Baker) is abandoned when a group of local vigilantes with baseball bats take it upon themselves to drive the homeless out of Albany.
The book snagged the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and is the third book in Kennedy's Albany Cycle. It placed at No. 92 on the Modern Library list of the 100 Best Novels written in English in the 20th Century and is also included in the Western Canon of the critic Harold Bloom.
Many of William Joseph Kennedy's novels feature the interaction of members of the fictional Irish-American Phelan family and utilize incidents of Albany's history and the supernatural. Kennedy's works include The Ink Truck (1969), Legs (1975), Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (1978), Ironweed (1983) and Roscoe (2002).