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Awesome: 34.62%
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Total Crap: 1.28%

6 reviews, 42 user ratings

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In America
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by EricDSnider

"An evocative, heartfelt story."
4 stars

Above all else, "In America" is clearly an act of catharsis for its writer/director, Jim Sheridan, who uses the story of Irish immigrants coming to New York in the 1980s to tell his own story. His previous films, "My Left Foot" (1989), "In the Name of the Father" (1993) and "The Boxer" (1997), had personal elements to them, but "In America" trumps them all in that respect, and Sheridan's heart and soul are evident in scene after evocative scene.

The film is set approximately in 1982 ("E.T." is playing in theaters), though the many anachronisms -- the "Aida" marquee in Times Square, to name only one -- suggest a certain timelessness. (In Entertainment Weekly, Sheridan said he lacked the budget to give his sets a 1980s makeover, and that he liked the ethereal "when are we?" element anyway.) Johnny Sullivan (Paddy Considine) has moved his wife Sarah (Samantha Morton) and daughters Christy and Ariel (real-life sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger) to New York, hoping The City holds a better life for them. Johnny wants to be an actor, and seems to have some talent for it, though the pressures of supporting a family demand that he get a job as a cab driver in the meantime. Sarah works at a nearby ice cream parlor, and the girls experience a good old-fashioned unbearably hot New York summer with the wide-eyed delight and optimism of youth.

The family has suffered, though. The youngest Sullivan child, Frankie, died a year ago, and no one has fully recovered from the loss. Eleven-year-old Christy, who has a camcorder (another anachronism) and who is our eyes into the film, believes Frankie can grant her three wishes from heaven. She uses the wishes carefully, and tells us of her decisions with melancholic thoughtfulness.

In their slummy apartment building, there is a screaming, reclusive artist named Mateo (Djimon Hounsou) whom the girls befriend and who proves to be useful later on. These young actresses, without much professional experience under their belts, are fantastic at conveying the blithe naivete of the young. They never seem to view New York as a dangerous place, even though they live in a bad part of town and have screaming reclusive neighbors. Life is an adventure, meant to be experienced to the fullest. When sad things occur, like the death of their baby brother, one deals with them however one must and one moves on. It's the grownups who tend to forget that.

I like the feel of the film, the way it puts us into the various seasons of New York realistically, without the gloss normally used by movies set in the Big Apple. Through the girls' eyes, we see the magic of childhood, but with the addition of the parents' point of view, we see it in the context of the real world. It's a film full of rich, warm humor, honest emotion and gentle, gradual healing.

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originally posted: 12/09/03 15:30:02
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This film is available for download or online viewing at For more in the series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/09/09 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
10/01/08 Annie G Enjoyable movie that puts a different face on illegal immigrants. 3 stars
9/10/07 louciljohann very touching....heart-warming 4 stars
3/29/06 steve castleberry This is a good movie- The only one I`ve ever felt like rating. 5 stars
6/13/05 Steve Newman Awesome - go see 5 stars
5/27/05 Brendan An absolute classic. One of my Top 5! 5 stars
5/25/05 Diana R I thought this movie was great 5 stars
3/09/05 axefell resiliency of the eager-eyed optimist on display 4 stars
8/08/04 Mike McGilvray A touching, sad film well worth my time. 5 stars
7/18/04 scrambled brain it irritated me to no end 2 stars
7/06/04 Joan Cagney Very moving film - struck at my Irish American heritage 4 stars
6/21/04 Joli Darling Jim Sheridan's search for that which is authentic was more than realized in this film. 5 stars
6/01/04 maggie cloying-sacharine--annoying children 2 stars
5/21/04 Gretchen Ross wonderful, simplistic film that portrays the fragility and beauty of innocence 5 stars
5/18/04 Mike Excellent Film 4 stars
5/07/04 Megan It was totally amazing- it touched my heart and Emma and Sarah Bolger are amazing actress'! 5 stars
3/09/04 mouhamadou aw i need to watch a film online 3 stars
3/06/04 Jaco Visser Both character and moviegoer grow together in this master artwork. 5 stars
3/06/04 Helen Bradley A really bad film poor script and lousy acting 1 stars
2/29/04 jimmy two times free of stereo types. deals with the working class honestly. great film. 5 stars
2/20/04 john lovely, great cinematography, acting, goings-on etc. 5 stars
2/07/04 Valerie Cameron 2 Oscar nominations for grownups, but the little girls are the real stars. 4 stars
1/15/04 Kate Wonderful, but anxiety-inducing. I found myself waiting for harm around every corner. 5 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Really great Sheridan drama; Morton is outstanding as the mother. 5 stars
1/13/04 skysusan Great film; worth seeing 5 stars
1/10/04 CharlieDams Haunting, unforgettable. Excellent, believable acting. Photography, sets very good 5 stars
1/05/04 Lewis Menacing Black neighbor, a teddy bear in disguise, pays Irish family's big medical bill 2 stars
12/31/03 ownerofdajoint this movie works well on several levels;don't miss it 5 stars
12/28/03 Eleanor Finally, a functionaling family with all the love, and grief, honesty and trust that we lo 5 stars
12/17/03 Gus Touching movie 5 stars
12/10/03 hans lovely, moving film. Sarah Bolger is brilliant 5 stars
12/01/03 elizabeth beautiful film, oscar worthy in the vein of "My Left Foot" or "In The Name of the Father" 5 stars
11/29/03 Emperor's New Clothes? Nope. Just a Fat, Ugly, Naked, Guy. Personal and touching. Pieces don't quite fit perfectly, but close enough. 4 stars
11/22/03 Law Surprising, moving, compelling - great acting 5 stars
11/19/03 Esther Fabulous! Stunning performances and great music! 5 stars
11/16/03 Hal Underwood A great movie - I knew nothing about it before seeing it. 5 stars
11/07/03 Tony Hocking Thought provoking, with a fantastic debut from the little girls. 5 stars
10/27/03 Norm Engel Absolutely marvellous film. Wonderful acting from the lead characters, touches your hear 5 stars
10/24/03 julie dupree beautiful film 5 stars
10/24/03 Dick Briglia Wonderful Surprising Movie 4 stars
10/21/03 Brad Willard Loved this film 5 stars
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  26-Nov-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 11-May-2004



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