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Flashback Movie Review: In America
Three-D   |  

In America DVDIn America
Directed by Jim Sheridan
Starring Sarah Bolger, Emma Bolger, Paddy Considine, Djimon Hounsou, Samantha Morton

A little girl by the name of Christy (Sarah Bolger) comes to America, Manhattan specifically, from Ireland and captures everything on her little red camcorder. She tapes anything she finds interesting, and that can be a lot. This camcorder sees everything from normal people walking the streets of Manhattan, a little girl beautifully singing Desperado, and even the end of days for two people she dearly loves. She lies on the top bunk, younger sister Ariel (Emma Bolger) on the bottom, and replays these happenings every night on her little video screen.

Some movies shake our emotions, others give us goosebumps, others even make us feel an overwhelming sense of joy but it’s a rarity that one single movie can possess all three of these golden qualities. In America (2003) is that rarity. It works mainly because of the performances but mostly due to the fact that director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) handles the movie with such delicacy and care because he dedicates this film to his younger brother Frankie who went through a battle with cancer. With that said he creates a realm of reality so personal that the least this movie can do to the human body is to resonate through its soul.

I mentioned that Sheridan directs this movie with such care, true, but most of all he succeeds with the story telling. What he does with this story is fabulous. Were in the wrong hands it could’ve flopped and been labeled a “cheesy” kind of movie. Some of the movie could be a little on the side of wishful thinking but never once does Sheridan make us double check the decisions he manages to go with as the movie unfolds before our very eyes. We believe every detail he has offers to us. Every single detail.

In America takes place in the 1980s. A family from Ireland comes to America with hopes of leaving their past behind and starting new. We are shown no racism whatsoever, no guilt ridden father, or any of that nonsense that other movies are plagued with, just pure story telling. Johnny (Paddy Considine) and Sarah (Samantha Morton) are the parents of the two little girls with the video camera. They’re trying to get over the fact that their young boy died from a brain tumor. It’s not easy for any of them, especially Johnny. He does whatever it takes to support and make his three girls happy. So America should offer them some support, right? Johnny struggles to get an acting job going from audition to audition until he has to finally settle for a night job driving a taxi to support the girls to go to a catholic school. Sarah is much hidden in the movie but has a powerful impact. She has a problem which results her into having trouble giving birth.

They find themselves living in a run-down drug apartment that consists of all kinds of different people but one in particular: the screaming man by the name of Mateo (Djimon Hounsou) from Africa. He’s an angry artist, maybe also a drug dealer, who like Johnny just needs to find the right person to get through life happy. When the two cross paths it’s simply astounding what occurs. It wouldn’t be far to t ell you much more because this is the kind of movie you have to be unprepared for.

The scenes that are compacted into this film are all stellar, even some of them more than the other. Take when Johnny is at the street fair and finds himself digging a huge hole in debt because he wants to get his daughter an E.T. doll that is worth a measly thirty dollars. As his family watches and a crowd gathers, Sheridan shows us what any father would do in this situation. Also, when Mateo meets the two little girls on Halloween night it is beyond moving and done so right. Who can forget the last 15 or so minutes that really make you appreciate this film more?

In America drains its audience with tears but also allows us to be flooded with tears of joy. Sheridan crafts a modern masterpiece that doesn’t rely on any effects or big time actors. Sometimes a film benefits better when we aren’t familiar with our main characters and every actor here is beyond perfect. We just come to know them as the people who are depicted in this film. From now on Paddy Considine is really Johnny, Samantha Morton is really Sarah, the two sisters are really Christy and Ariel, and Djimon Hounsou is really Mateo.

***** of *****


  1. IGreat review! I must have this one!

    Comment by robertarizona — November 13, 2010 @ 2:08 am

  2. Excellent review.
    One of those films where everything comes together.
    A real gem!!

    Comment by Jerry — November 13, 2010 @ 7:56 am

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