In America

DVD Reviews | Mar 4th, 2005

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Starring Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Sarah Bolger, Emma Bolger, Djimon Hounsou
Written By: Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan, Kirsten Sheridan
Directed By: Jim Sheridan
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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This movie was nominated for lots of awards and I can understand why. It’s got a compelling realistic story, and excellent acting as well.

In America is a loosely based autobiography story about director Jim Sheridan’s life. The movie starts off with Johnny (Paddy Considine) & Sarah (Samantha Morton), and their 2 cute little daughters, Christy (Sarah Bolger) & Ariel (Emma Bolger), moving from Ireland to New York City to find better opportunity for themselves. They are also trying to start fresh after they had to experience the tragic death of their son, Frankie. Each family members blames themselves for the death of Frankie and each of them try to coup with it. The move takes a little bit of adjusting too, and the family struggles to find work, especially Johnny the father, who’s an actor. They find a place to live, in a shitty junkie apartment building and get mediocre jobs to support the family. The story is seen through the eyes & camcorder of the 2 girls; the camcorder shots definitely gives the movie a more realistic feel to it. The girls eventually meet a dying artist who lives in the building named Mateo (Djimon Hounsou) who rarely talks to anyone; but he starts to talk with the girls and hangs out with the family a lot. The mother, Samantha gets pregnant but their might be problems with the pregnancy or with the baby, and the family tries to press on and get pass the hard times.

I can understand why this movie got many award nominations because it has some wonderful acting and a realistic storyline that many people could relate to. The look of the movie also gives it that realistic feel in some shots, mostly the camcorder point of view because it looks like it’s being played over for everybody to see or as it’s happening. The movie is tough to watch at times because it’s sad to see people go through bad situations, and see things get worse and worse. I can’t relate with too many things in the movie because I don’t have to support a family yet, but if there’s one thing I can relate to; is trying to win something for someone and spending more money on the game than what the prize is worth. During that scene, I’m saying to myself, “just stop already.” But I’m sure if I was there in front of all those people, I would have got caught up in the moment. Plus I wouldn’t want to look like an ass in front of my daughters. It’s good to see how the family deals with everything though, and try to just get pass the bad moments.

The acting was superb. Everyone involved did a great job but I think the best acting comes from Djimon Hounsou. I believe he steals every scene he’s in, and he’s just a caring, likable character. It’s sad to see him not in the movie more, but then again, the story is about the family, not about his life. Though he does play an important role in the story. The 2 sisters, who are sisters in real life, acted out their parts real well. They were so adorable. Usually some child actors kind of suck and are flat, but these girls’ acting skills are top notch. Samantha Morton and Paddy Considine also did a fabulous job with their parts as the parents. Their performances were convincing and you almost felt like they were torn up inside and trying to find a way out of the messes they encountered.

As far as extras are concern, there isn’t that much. There’s audio commentary with Jim Sheridan and I heard bits of pieces of it, and it was informative & personable because he talks about what really happened with himself and his 2 daughters, who co-wrote the screenplay with him. If you saw the movie, and want to find out more, you’ll probably want to listen to the commentary. There’s about 9 deleted scenes, and an alternate ending as well. The deleted scenes show more of the junkie Frank and his relationship with Johnny. The scene where Frank puts a knife to Johnny’s neck is an alternate version because Johnny turns the tables and starts to choke him to death until Frank’s girlfriend calls for him, but calls him Frankie. Johnny starts to think of his son and stops and cries in a corner. It’s a much more darker scene than in the movie, but the version in the movie is a better version. There’s also more scenes with Johnny, and also a few more with Mateo. Some were good, but I can see why some of them were left on the cutting room floor.

If you like realistic dramas (I need to find another word for realistic hehe), an excellent story with terrific acting, than go out and rent In America, and if you like the film, go out and buy the DVD.

– Commentary by Director Jim Sheridan
– 9 Deleted Scenes
– “Making-of” Featurette
– Alternate Ending

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
SPANISH: Dolby Digital Surround
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Surround

Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic) Standard 1.33:1 Color


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Rating: Rated PG-13
Running Time: 105 minutes
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