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Movie Review: In America

Story: An alternate title for Irish writer/director Jim Sheridan's homage to his short immigrant American experience could have been Once Upon A Time I Brought My Young Family to NYC - Had Some Life Altering Experiences - and Then We Went Back to Ireland.

Loosely based on his own memories, Sheridan retells (narrated through his 11 year old daughter's eyes) how his family slipped into America, found their way through the grief of losing a child, rebuilt their family unit and came to believe in themselves.

No one does character development like Jim Sheridan and he does not disappoint in this film either. His amazing resume includes My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father and The Boxer. He, along with Neil Jordan, changed the course of Irish film making and created one big fan in this movie go-er.

The film is mostly episodic and tends to sag a bit in the middle (don't we all though) but it is worth your time and money. It depicts an immigrant American experience unlike most of the films you have seen. The lion's share of the film takes place in what was once called Hell's Kitchen but since gentrification is now called Clinton (don't get me started on this topic).

Acting: Samantha Morton is always good. Her passion and depth jump off the screen. The young sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger are perfect and totally believable. The father, played by Paddy Considine does not have the range that his fellow actors have and he slightly misses the boat. He reminds me of a young Stephen Rea (The Crying Game). Djimon Housou (Amistad) is powerful as the mysterious neighbor.

Predilection: I like films shot in NYC and I love all things Irish. This dual combination was right up my alley and was right onto my must see list this week.

Critters: Some pigeons and a dog.

Food: Ice cream sodas and an Irish concoction of potatoes and kale.

Visual Art: The neighbor is a painter. There is some fierce, angry native type art and the requisite child's art.

Blatant Product Placement: Dial Soap and Folger's Coffee.

Soundtrack: The track works well with the production.

Opening Titles: None. All credits are at the end.

Theater Audience: I was alone in the secret balcony of my local stadium seated theater. This theater has been open for several years and most folks still haven't figured out that two of the theaters have huge plush balconies. Ssh - don't tell!

Sappy Factor: Some sap was compulsory -- but at an acceptable level, even for me.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: You would have to be made out of stone to not shed a tear or two from this heart wrenching tale.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: The time line was all over the map on this one. I tried to not have it interfere with my enjoyment of the film but I found too many little inconsistencies that irked me. I realize it is a memory piece and that time has a way of warping -- so I forgave Mr. Sheridan his artistic license.

Big Screen or Rental: Oh, go have a little cry and see it on the big screen. For some other films with Samantha Morton try these: Minority Report, Morvern Callar, The Dreaming of Joseph Lees, Jesus' Son, Sweet and Lowdown and This Is the Sea.

Length: Under two hours.