In America, one of Empire’s Top 25 Films of 2003, is the heart-warming tale of an Irish couple and their two daughters who illegally immigrate to New York City in search of a better life. However, before they can fully embrace the challenges and wonders of their new home, they must cope with and triumph over the emotional wounds of a past sorrow that haunts each of them – the death of son, Frankie.
Whilst the father, Johnny, (Paddy Considine) auditions for theatre roles and mother, Sarah, (Samantha Morton) works in a local diner to make ends meet, the two young girls, Christy and Ariel, befriend terminally-ill, temperamental artist, Mateo (Djimon Hounsou). Much of this poignant movie is seen through the eyes of the two girls, one of whom through her camcorder, keeps a video diary of sorts. It is through this camcorder that audiences are charmed by the transformation of Mateo from an angry, bitter man dying of AIDS, to a man of hope, who realizes that there is still some good in the world.
A particularly brilliant scene is one near the beginning of the film, where the family venture out into the city funfair. Johnny intends to win a cuddly toy for his daughters, but before he knows it, is sucked into the game, with the scene climaxing in him gambling with the family’s entire savings.
Although many people have argued that nothing actually happens in this film, I would argue that it is precisely scenes such as these which make it well worth seeing. It is a film very much true to life, the beauty of which lies in every moment, and doesn’t require an action-packed story line to make it work. All of the cast’s performances are exemplary, and it is no wonder than Morton and Hounsou were both nominated at this year’s Academy Awards for their roles.
Writer and director, Jim Sheridan, famous for films such as My Left Foot and In the Name of the Father, has once again surpassed himself in this loosely autobiographical story of memory, secrets, love, loss and starting over. In America is one of the nicest films I have seen in a very long time.
Ricky Anthony Wyatt
Screenings of this film:
|2003/2004 Summer Term – (35mm)|