In America Jim Sheridan

In America Jim Sheridan
In America is a vague title befitting its equally vague namesake; it's a film that is clearly executed with heart but like a wounded creature, only allows you so close. Samantha Morton (the aquatic oracle in Minority Report) plays Sarah, and Paddy Considine (24 Hour Party People) is Johnny — Irish parents who move their family to Manhattan after the tragic loss of their youngest child. Johnny is determined to make his way on Broadway, while Sarah works at an ice cream parlour to afford their shoddy apartment in a sketchy part of town. But the story is told through the eyes and voices of their daughters Christy and Ariel (Sarah and Emily Bolger), children who make the best of living in relative poverty as they try to understand the impact of their sibling's death on their parents. The young family finds an unexpected source of healing from their hermit neighbour Mateo (played by Djimon Hounsou of Amistad, Gladiator), who turns out to be the most interesting character in the film. What comes across best in In America is the love between the family members and the pain of struggling to survive in the city. It's the poignancy of those emotions that makes the audience want more, but that is all In America has to give. The story of the family before we meet them remains obscure and elusive, like a well kept secret, with only partial explanations and cursory footage to fill in the blanks. Mateo's character, which especially begs for exposition, has even less to offer, as we find no answers except those cryptically hidden in his stylised paintings. In America wants us to feel, and to understand, a misfit family searching for its place and its peace, but it doesn't give us enough of its past to allow us to fully develop that understanding. (Fox Searchlight)