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29 September 2005

In America (2002)

Samantha Morton, Paddy Considine, Djimon Hounsou, and Sarah & Emma Bolger

Directed by Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father)

From Hollywood Video: "After the death of a son, a family moves from Ireland to a rundown apartment in New York City. Their life is difficult, financially and emotionally, but they're helped out greatly by the contagious joie de vie of a dying artist who lives in the apartment below theirs."

Great movie. Difficult movie. Yikes, what a tear-jerker.

Have I mentioned that Samantha Morton always makes me cry? I think I have. She was nothing less than tremendous here - wounded, powerful, fragile, desperate, calm and loving. The Bolger sisters were literally astounding. Sarah, as the older daughter Christy, managed to compose her face in such a way as to portray both wisdom and self-assurance, even in the face of her character's horrific and moving situations. The younger girl, Emma, was a doll. The way she pushed her hair out of her face or tried to catch someone else's eyes for reassurance - she had magic in the space between where her acting began and ended.

I think that now, as a parent, movies like The Ring may creep me out, but films like this one hold the potential of REAL horror. What if the E.T. carnival scene hadn't gone as it had? And as the girls walked so innocently around the streets of Hell's Kitchen, what manner of tragedy could have befallen them while their parents struggled for a dream, a better life? These sorts of everyday terrors are far more compelling to me than any slasher movie. While I had the sneaking suspicion that Sheridan and his co-writing daughters were going to give this family the best ending they could manage, there existed the possibility that real, terrible, unavoidable life could have had its way with them. And they had already suffered enough (even without my lingering question as to how they managed to work and be hospitalized in the US without immigration papers).

I found it interesting that Sheridan decided to use Christy's camcorder as a story-telling device, even though such a machine would have been the size of a Buick in 1984 (when the story is set). He claimed, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly (I think), that the use of incongruous devices such as the camcorder and modern advertisements on the billboards served to blur the line between fiction and reality, in that this story could be taking place right now. I liked the pastiche, the playfulness. These were Irish characters set in the 1980s, but their fears, dreams, grievances and shared experiences were wholly human and utterly timeless.

And of course, Gavin, Maurice & Bono (and Andrea Corr, just to throw some more genuine Irish-ness) came along for the ride.

A fantastic, if emotionally draining movie. I have to go kiss my kids now.

Blogger Diva Kitty's Mom said...

I really enjoyed this one as well - cried like a little girl.

Blogger carrie_lofty said...

But a good cry. Not the kind that has you contemplating razor blades come the finale.


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