Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pose Reviews A Movie. #36: In America (2002)

I'd like to start by dedicating this review to my friend Kate, who initially recommended that I watch In America, and who I know has a tendency to follow the blog.

I miss you KT!! I think it's wonderful that Scotland has swallowed you up, but I'm also counting down the days till you come home. (Right now it's several hundred.)

OK, now on to the review.

Did I like In America?



was it mostly because of the way it tugs at the heartstrings, and less on account of its technical or artistic merit?

Also yes.

Jim Sheridan's film about an Irish immigrant family settling illegally in New York City after the death of their son is the kind of movie that is designed to wrench your emotions.

It just has to.

But the reason it's OK is because the film exacts its full-on assault of the feelings through style and content--it doesn't rely strictly on either.

Take, for example, the fact that the film is narrated by Christy Sullivan, the elder of the two daughters in the family. This is an effective choice, since her interpretation of the film's events are endearingly skewed by her young age, and having such an adorable narrator guide you through the film helps to soften the blow of some of the sadder and more upsetting elements.

The acting is also very strong across the board. Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton are dynamic as the Irish parents, who try their best to keep themselves financially and emotionally afloat in the Big Apple, all the while attempting to hide the harsh realities of city life from their children.

The two daughters, played by Sarah and Emma Bolger, are also tremendous actresses--their roles call for a sophisticated range of moods and subtle line deliveries, both of which they handle with impressive ease.

All in all, In America is exceptionally made--my only qualm with the story is that it wanders into far-fetched territory at times. The deus-ex-machina quality of some of these extraordinary events is alleviated slightly by Christy's claim that her brother gave her three wishes before he died, but that only makes them slightly more believable within the context of the film.

That said, you can't have a dramatic film without the drama, and certainly In America would be a little boring without the implausible moments to which I'm referring.

And they sure do sting the ol' tear ducts.

Ultimately, In America is a very uplifting film, encouraging its audience not to dwell on the past, but more to look forward to the future. It's also the kind of movie that encourages us to put our own struggles in perspective, and to be more mindful of the struggles of our newly immigrated friends, co-workers and neighbours.

I'd recommend In America to anyone with feelings they haven't used in awhile, and who also has an affinity for happy endings...

...and Irish accents.

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