After the tragic death of their son Frankie, Sarah (Morton) and Johnny (Considine)
move from their native Ireland to the bright lights of New York City. For
sisters Christy (Sarah Bolger) and Ariel (Emma Bolger) it is the start of
a new adventure but for Christy it meant so much more. As her parents tried
to recover from the loss, Christy saw it as her responsibility to hold the
family together and get them through it all.
Writer/director Jim Sheridan takes us on another emotional Irish
journey in probably his most personal film.
Coping with loss is always a powerful and moving cinematic subject
but when it is told through the eyes of a child the heartstrings are pulled
that much tighter. This is Christy's story about her family and how she has
to be strong for her parents and younger sister after losing her brother to
cancer. She bottles up all her emotion only releasing it to her camcorder
as she narrates her American story. She sees her father's bottled up grief,
her mother taking the blame and her young sister's innocent questions going
A film of this type wouldn't work without strong performances
and the cast rise to the challenge. Samantha Morton is making a real name
for herself as a fine character actress and again she does disappoint as Sarah.
Paddy Considine is also starting to get himself noticed by making Johnny a
very sympathetic character, whose grief has transformed him so much that his
young daughter barely recognises him anymore. Djimon Hounsou is as good as
ever as secretive neighbour Mateo, but I would have liked his character to
have had more background and screen time.
The stars of the film are Sarah and Emma Bolger. Here we have
two child actresses who are so natural, you can't believe that they are acting.
Sarah narrates and carries the film as Christy. The whole movie plays out
through her eyes and the lens of her camcorder. This is her story and the
fact that she can be no more than eight years old makes what she is coping
with all that more powerful. Young Emma as Ariel is the comedic heart of the
movie. Her character's innocent outlook on the world relieves the tension
and emotion of the piece and it is made all the more believeable by her very
In America is a well-written look at how a family copes with
such a dramatic loss. While the story itself may be slightly sugar coated
in parts, the quality of the acting and a growing fondness for the characters
will make you want to find out what happens in the end, hoping that it is
a happy one.
Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtrack and as with most modern transfers it is very good. Jim Sheridan's
visual flair is really brought to the forefront with strong colours especially
during the autumn scenes. The sound is also good, emphasising dialogue very
strongly which you'd expect for a film that is driven by it.
Commentary by Director Jim Sheridan
In this passionate and informative commentary, Jim Sheridan talks freely about
how story reflects his family's own move to American. He discusses casting
and how Emma Bolger got the part and then went on introduce the director to
her sister Sarah. He also talks frankly about how his brother's death was
reflected in the film and how it shows such an innocent time in his and his
A Personal Journey: The Making of In America (20.19 mins)
The cast, director and co-writers talk about the film's ten-year journey to
the screen. This autobiographical piece drew real passion not just from the
writers Jim Sheridan and his daughters Naomi and Kristen but from the cast
also. You also get to see Sarah and Emma's casting videos and each of the
main cast discussing their characters.
Ten deleted or alternative scenes with selectable audio commentary by director
Jim Sheridan are entitled "Johnny fixes the fuse box", "Autumn and the Star-Spangled
banner", "That's Frankie", "Boots", "Are there birds in Africa", "I shall
be redeemed", "The dish ran away with the spoon", "We're all the same", "Frank
attacks Johnny" and an alternative ending.
Previews of Master & Commander: The Far side of the World, Runaway Jury, Garage
Days and The Dreamers
A heart warming and touching story of family is backed up by
some good extras. The featurette gives you an insight into the characters
and the story behind the film, add to this the passionate and informative
commentary by Jim Sheridan and you get a nicely packaged DVD.
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