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"In America"

Directed by Jim Sheridan.
Written by Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan and Kirsten Sheridan. 
Starring Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Sarah Bolger and Emma Bolger.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  12/18/03 


I have been seeing previews for this film for literally a finally, I got the chance to see Jim Sheridan’s semi-autobiographical flick “In America.”

Paddy Considine plays Johnny, who brings his wife Sarah (Samantha Morton) and two little girls Christy (Sarah Bolger) and Ariel (Emma Bolger) over from Dublin to start a new life in America.  After finding an apartment in a drug addict-riddled building near Harlem, they start their new life with problem after problem—the air conditioner goes out, Johnny struggles to find a job as an actor in Manhattan, Sarah struggles to make cash at an ice cream joint, and everybody struggles to overcome the loss of Frankie, the third child of the parents that has died prior to the timeline covered in the film.

It is Frankie, in fact, that seems to be the overlying problem I had with “In America.”  I can understand and imagine a situation where losing a child could be so crushing on a continual basis months and years after the loss...but for me, not meeting Frankie or seeing him at all as a character in the film left me with no physical or emotional connection, and at times it made some of the more intense scenes fall a little flat.  A story so close to the filmmaker makes me wonder if he considered showing us Frankie through pictures or videos during the story before killing off the idea altogether; maybe Sheridan didn’t want to deal with this more than he had to?  I don’t know, but not having Frankie onscreen made it tough for me to get into the sorrow this family feels throughout the film.

Everything else about “In America” is very strong, though.  You can’t help but love the kids cast in the film; both are truly incredible, and in the film’s best sequence, Sarah Bolger as Christy does a great job of conveying the responsibility she has been carrying to try to keep the family together.  Djimon Hounsou (“Amistad”, “Gladiator”) plays a neighbor of the family that connects with the girls during a visit on Halloween; his character felt like it was written or conceived by two different people at times, but he had enough great moments to nearly draw ManTears as the film went on.  A great score, some great laughs and a solid all-around cast made me forget about some little things, like understanding the logic behind letting your kids go off alone to the ice cream shop—walking through the lobby of your CRACK HOUSE—while you try to have sex with your husband.

My question is, will this be up for Oscar consideration this year?  I could almost swear that this film was released in New York City last year, or maybe abroad last year.  I’m so confused...

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09