Movie Review: In America
by Poppy Hullings

"In America"
Directed by Jim Sheridan
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, drug references, brief violence and language
Cast: Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Emma Bolger, Sarah Bolger, and Djimon Hounsou

In this movie, we follow the Sullivans--an Irish family composed of Johnny the father, Sarah the mother, and Christy and Ariel, the daughters--as they immigrate (illegally) to America to start a new life, in more ways than one. While they adjust to life in New York City, it becomes apparent that they are shadowed by the memory of Frankie, their son/brother who died back in Ireland.

Throughout the film, Christy, the older of the two daughters, narrates and uses her own video camera to tell us the story. The family sells their car and moves into a Manhattan apartment populated by drug addicts and other illegal immigrants. Sarah starts working in a local ice cream parlor, while Johnny, an actor, works as a taxi driver while squeezing in auditions when and where he can. Their paychecks allow them to place the girls in a Catholic school. Even though the girls don't live in the safest place, they still make friends with Mateo, a downstairs neighbor who, despite his door bearing the spray-painted words stay away, befriends Christy and Ariel. Mateo, it seems, has a reason for being an isolated and ‘angry‘ artist. Meanwhile, Sarah learns she is pregnant and won't be able to carry her baby to full term. I don't want to spoil the movie for you so I'll just leave the plot description at that.

As a bereaved mother, I could sense the underlying sadness this family carried around with them even during their happier moments. They could be content in their present moment, yet still be sad and grieve for their son/brother in that same moment. The dialogue, facial expressions, and body language of this family was so real to me, it didn't seem like acting at all. There were times when I thought I was seeing or hearing myself on the screen. The performances of Sarah and Emma Bolger, the real-life sisters who played Christy and Ariel, are so innocent, true and just plain adorable in their roles. The scene of Christy singing "Desperado" at a school concert is one of the most memorable in the movie.

"In America" is inspired by the true experiences of writer/director Jim Sheridan. The film is dedicated to the memory of his brother, Frankie Sheridan, who died at age 10 from a brain tumor. This movie would likely appeal to immigrants, bereaved parents, and almost anyone who likes to see ‘real-life' events and emotions. What I liked most about the movie is that it did seem 'real' and it wasn't a happily-ever-after story or even an unhappily-ever-after story. It's just a family trying to live their lives through the good times, the bad times and the in-between.

About the Author
Poppy Hullings

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