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In America

2006-11-03 08:59

To begin all over again is a classic American dream. But it's remarkably hard to do, as Irish emigres Johnny and Sarah (Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton) discover when they hit the streets of modern-day Manhattan, their two spunky young daughters in tow, and emerge into a realm as comical and adventure-filled as it is strange and terrifying. The family faces a dizzying new future - but first they must face down a past that haunts every single one of them.

With no cash to spare, Johnny and Sarah settle into a chaotic New York tenement populated by a colourful assortment of characters - and attempt to turn a Gothic horror-movie setting into a true home. From dragging an iffy-looking air conditioner across Manhattan to finding make-do jobs, nothing comes without a fight for the couple.

And yet, while they see America as rife with challenges, dangers and weirdness, their daughters see it as a magical place where anything can happen, a place that might release them all from the anguish of what has come before.

Then, on Halloween, Christy and Ariel (sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger) dare to knock on the door of "the screaming man," a mysterious neighbour named Mateo (Djimon Hounsou), and everything changes. As the family heads for a crisis, Mateo becomes their unlikely ally in the territory where hope, faith and even magic hold sway.

What the critics are saying:

"The racial dynamic is facile....But somehow that's not quite enough to stop you being swept into the film's warm afterglow. It's flawed but still wonderful."
- Jamie Russell, BBCi

"The three miracles that occur over the course of Jim Sheridan's In America pale next to the miracle of the movie itself."
- Charles Taylor, Salon

"There are so many beautiful, tender moments in In America ... that it's easy to forgive Sheridan's manipulative ploys."
- Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

An Irish family come to modern-day Manhattan seeking a better life, and find that the American dream is extremely hard to find. In America is an unexpectedly wonderful and magical film that rises above its flaws.

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