Everyday in the news all you hear about is the hatred the world has towards America. At times, the hatred feels so intense it almost makes you want to read a Pat Buchanan book about immigration and personally finance an electric fence around America to protect us from the world. The film “In America” (Fox Searchlight) on the other hand makes you want to do the exact opposite.
“In America” is the story of an Irish family that makes its way to America to allow the father of the family, Johnny (Paddy Considine), to pursue his acting career and a better life for the entire family. The film opens with the family, Jonny, the mother Sarah (Samantha Morton), and the two daughters Christy (Sarah Bolger) and Ariel (Emma Bolger) at the U.S. Canadian border trying to enter America. Quickly revealed is the fact that the family has recently lost a son named Frankie and is struggling to cope with this fact.
This very first scene of the film is incredible in its ability to setup the entire movie and to make even the coldest cynic feel for the family. This is familiar territory (for both the director and the audience) but the connection to the characters is like few before as a result of the semi-autobiographical nature of the film. The connection is so strong because you can sense the real people and emotions behind the film.
As the father struggles for an acting gig and the family struggles to make it in New York, Sarah becomes pregnant. The emotional pain that lingers from the loss of the last child are revealed as the family tries to cope with what this new child will bring. The rest of the film revolves around the coming of the new child and the family’s relationship with one another.
The film is not perfect and some loose ends are left unexplained. Most of the subplot with Mateo (Djimon Hounsou) is unnecessary and distracts from the family. However, all of that is quickly forgotten upon reflection and what sticks with you is the love that this family feels for each other and how deeply you connect with them is after viewing this film.