In America

"Good"

In America Review


In order to embrace the more fableistic elements of "In America," director Jim Sheridan's fond semi-autobiographical parable about a contemporary family of Irish illegals trying to make good in dilapidated, drug-plagued Hell's Kitchen, it may be necessary to remind yourself that this grown-up film is narrated from a child's point of view.

This will make it possible, for example, not to roll your eyes at the use of The Lovin' Spoonful song "Do You Believe In Magic" over a montage of Manhattan sights reflecting in a car window, behind which are the wide eyes of two excited little girls (sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger) and their the desperate but hopeful parents (Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton).

Remembering that sweet, philosophical 11-year-old Christy (Sarah Bolger) is curious about everything in her new world helps you understand why Sheridan makes her dangerous neighborhood of transvestites, addicts and prostitutes feel more like a non-threatening carnival of curios to be collected through her omnipresent camcorder.

"In America" is a rose-colored sepia toning of the family's hard-knocked life in a rat-infested flat, in a derelict apartment building with a broken lift and a scary neighbor with a predilection for primal screams. But the film has the warmth of the director's passion, and its innocent perspective comes courtesy of a reliable source -- the screenplay was co-written by Sheridan's own now-grown daughters, Naomi and Kristen.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Bolger girls are melodious, magnetic, natural actresses who endear themselves to a viewer so quickly and completely that you may find that questioning their ingenuous outlook on the world comes largely from worrying about their survival in it.

The director offers up many subconscious reminders of the movie's point-of-view (low-angle cinematography, often finding yourself shuffled off to an ice cream shop when tension (or desire) strikes the parents. But underlying problems are always present, and Sheridan fuels the film's emotional life with the family's struggles, not the least of which is that all of them are heartbreakingly haunted, to varying degrees, by an unspoken void left by the accidental death of the girls' brother -- an event that takes place before this story but casts a long shadow.

Paddy Considine ("Last Resort," "A Room for Romeo Brass") brings an absorbing rawness to the careworn father, who does everything he can to hide how dead his soul has felt since losing his son. The spellbinding yet subtle Samantha Morton ("Morvern Callar," "Minority Report," "Sweet & Lowdown") brings a unique weight and dimension to her character that is rarely seen in movie moms -- a true sense of how motherhood is a part of every breath she takes, even when she's struck with bouts of melancholy. Interestingly, it's these two -- not the children -- who are the key to remembering that Sheridan shows us a sanguine version of hardship, because as good parents they do all they can not to burden their daughters with real-world plight.

But the movie's most pivotal role goes to Djimon Hounsou ("Amistad," "Gladiator"), who demonstrates his under-appreciated range as the bellowing neighbor, a terminally ill African immigrant and volatile surrealist painter who begins the film as a boogieman figure but soon becomes the girls' best friend and the family's guardian angel.

Their many dilemmas are wrapped up in a far too neat and overly symbolic package as Sheridan draws his story to a close. But "In America" is after all a fable -- and one that packs an emotional wallop in its watershed finale. With one more self-reminder that the movie is from the perspective of an astute but sheltered child, even the last reel's lucky contrivance of alleviation and heartwarming optimism makes a certain kind of sense.



In America

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Friday 31st October 2003

Box Office USA: $15.3M

Budget: $15 thousand

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 154 Rotten: 19

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Free State of Jones Movie Review

Since its true story is still so timely after some 150 years, we can forgive...

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

Deepwater Horizon Movie Review

This reunion of actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg feels like a natural successor...

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review

Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Advertisement
Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.