Watch Ironweed

"Hard times and Good times. Francis and Helen."
  • R
  • 1987
  • 2 hr 23 min
  • 6.7  (9,826)
  • 56

Ironweed is a 1987 American drama film that stars Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Carroll Baker. The movie was directed by Hector Babenco and is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by William Kennedy. Set in Albany, New York, in the early 1930s, the film tells the story of Francis Phelan (Jack Nicholson), a homeless, alcoholic drifter who has returned to his hometown after a 22-year absence. Francis is haunted by the memories of his past, particularly the accidental death of his infant son, and has been wandering the country as a result. When he returns to Albany, he meets up with his old partner in crime, Rudy (Tom Waits), and together they try to survive on the streets.

During his time in Albany, Francis also reconnects with his former lover, Helen Archer (Meryl Streep), who has endured a tragic past of her own, including the loss of her singing career and the death of her infant son. Helen now works as a laundress and desperately wants to make something of her life, but her past keeps resurfacing to torment her.

As Francis and Helen come to terms with their pasts, they are forced to confront the harsh realities of life on the streets, including police brutality, poverty, and discrimination. Meanwhile, Francis is haunted by the ghosts of his past, including his son and the other people he has wronged in his life.

One of the central themes of Ironweed is the struggle for redemption and forgiveness. Francis and Helen are both haunted by their past mistakes, but as they come to terms with their demons, they begin to see a glimmer of hope for the future. The film also explores the broader themes of societal class divisions and the struggle for survival in the face of poverty and homelessness.

Jack Nicholson gives a powerful performance as Francis Phelan, capturing the character's deep pain and suffering with remarkable sensitivity. Meryl Streep also shines in her role as Helen Archer, bringing a depth and complexity to the character that is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Together, Nicholson and Streep create a powerful on-screen dynamic that is both raw and honest.

Carroll Baker also delivers a solid performance as Francis's estranged wife, Annie, who is haunted by the memories of their son's death and the realization that she may never be able to forgive Francis for his past mistakes.

The film is beautifully shot, with rich, atmospheric cinematography that captures the mood and essence of Depression-era Albany. The film's haunting musical score, composed by John Morris, adds another layer of emotional depth to the story.

In the end, Ironweed is a deeply moving and poignant film that explores the human condition in all its complexities. It is a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and the enduring power of forgiveness and redemption.

Ironweed is a 1987 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 23 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7 and a MetaScore of 56.

Where to Watch Ironweed
Ironweed is available to watch free on Pluto TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Ironweed for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 23 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (9,826)
  • Metascore