Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Jim Sheridan audio commentary; 10 deleted
scenes; Featurette: 'A Personal Journey: The Making Of In America'.
DIRECTOR, Jim Sheridan, has been responsible for some truly great
films during his 13-year career, including In The Name of the
Father and My Left Foot, but In America, his latest, has to rate
as his most personal and deeply affecting work to date.
A partly autobiographical tale about an Irish family who travel
to America in search of a new beginning, the movie is a devastatingly
heartfelt piece which has to rate as one of the most emotionally
engaging experiences of the year.
The family in question is comprised of Samantha Mortons
Sarah, her husband, Johnny (Paddy Considine), and their two daughters,
Christy and Ariel (played by real-life sisters, Sarah and Emma
Bolger), while America represents the land of opportunity and
a chance to escape the sadness of their past, caused by the death
of their youngest child, from a brain tumour.
Yet while New York, at first, represents a huge adventure, and
some light relief, the real resolution of their problems lies
much closer to home, and events conspire to force them to look
within for their salvation.
Sheridans movie could so easily have become a tedious and
heavy-handed tear-jerker that shamelessly exploits viewers
emotions, yet its strength lies in its ability to refrain from
It is sentimental, but never mawkish, providing a family whose
journey towards happiness is as funny, at times, as it can be
And in terms of performances, Sheridan has struck gold, with
every one of the principles providing a character viewers can
genuinely embrace and root for, such is the honesty of their situation.
In America doesnt have to rely on show-stopping set pieces,
or showy monologues, to make its mark, but earns your tears in
a quietly effective way, turning the most routine sequences -
such as Johnnys dash to find an air conditioning unit in
the height of Summer, or his attempts to win at a fairground -
into the most memorably heartbreaking, or uplifting, scenes of
Morton is as brilliant as we have come to expect, but it is the
lesser known stars, and Considine, in particular, who make the
biggest impression, virtually taking your breath away with the
power of their work.
Considines struggling actor, whose despair over the death
of his son has suppressed his ability to feel anything, is an
under-stated tour-de-force, guaranteed to have you weeping tears
of joy at the resolution of his journey, while the Bolger sisters
are impossibly sweet, but completely adorable, especially during
the more personal insights into how they are feeling.
Their relationship with Djimon Hounsous artist and neighbour
provides the catalyst for the familys soul-searching and
is brilliantly observed, with Hounsou, as well, deserving credit
for the way in which he switches from an intimidating, even threatening,
presence, to an almost mystical figure, who adds some much-needed
magic to the familys lives.
New York, too, is convincingly portrayed as both a place to be
marvelled by, and wary of, with the various do-gooders and low-lives
that populate the familys new community serving to create
a suitably realistic feel throughout.
In America bristles with a vibrancy reserved for only the best
types of movies, yet goes about its business with a quietly assured
confidence that is frequently found missing from the mainstream.
It is, quite simply, a breathtaking achievement, and one which
I would urge you not to miss.