Released: 29 January 2004
Cast: Samantha Morton, Paddy Considine, Sarah Bolger, Emma Bolger, Djimon Hounson
Director: Jim Sheridan
Rated: MA 15+
Running Time: 104 Minutes
In the mid 1980s, Johnny (Paddy Considine) and Sarah (Samantha Morton) immigrate to New York with their two young daughters. Virtually penniless and grief stricken by the recent death of their infant son, they make their home in a dilapidated building populated by junkies and criminals. While Johnny, an actor, embarks on a string of auditions, Sarah finds work as a waitress. Life is hard, but their unending good spirits and the love of their children keep them going. The family's fortunes begin to change when they befriend their neighbour, a struggling artist (Djimon Hounsou) with tragic secrets of his own.
In America was written by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In The Name Of The Father) and his two daughters, Naomi and Kirsten Sheridan, and is based on their own autobiographical experiences about coming to the United States.
In America is the story about a family's struggle to adjust to a new life after a tragedy, that being the death of their infant son. In order to start anew, the family moves radically by changing the country to which they will call home in the hope that the change will relieve them of their sorrow. Choosing New York enables some great characters to emerge and influence their lives, as well as the opportunity for them to influence those around them.
The stand-out stars of the movie are the two sisters, Christy and Ariel (Sarah & Emma Bolger) who are angels that believe in magic and that good can come to their family. They see New York as a mystical adventure and not something to overcome. They relish the change, adopting the ideas of traditional America. On Halloween, they dress up and go trick or treating and this is when they befriend the 'screaming man' that lives in one of the apartments of their building. He welcomes the girls into his home and his life and broadens their optimism even further.
Christy and Ariels parents, Johnny and Sarah, struggle to share their daughter's optimism about their future even though they try so hard. Johnny is a struggling actor who never gets a break while Sarah struggles to hold the family together, financially and emotionally.
In America is very dramatic and sometimes very sad without becoming too melodramatic. It is a story that will hold your attention right to the end, even though it is not edge of your seat stuff. It is a story that reaches out and touches you with its tragedy and secrets, so much so that you won't leave the theatre feeling betrayed. Finding out what happens to the family in America is such a worthwhile story that just had to be told, more so because it is based on fact.
- Christina Bruce