Saturday, August 02, 2014

"In America", a fine film from 2002

Here is yet another film that was completely missed during my years of wandering in the banking wilderness.  Somehow it was found on Netflix, and the brief summary made it look like a light "feel good" movie that may or may not be that good, but would not be taxing, or in other words could be relaxing.

It was a welcome surprise here.  Sure, it had its emotionally set up moments, but they were so well done that it was not a concern here, and one or two really got me.  All that was known here was that it was a PG film about an Irish family moving to New York City, and the difficulty of adjusting to a different life.  It was so much more than that.  The film often built up a level of tension as it was full of uncertainty that kept one watching intently.

The two stars of the film from this perspective were Sarah and Emma Bolger, the two young sisters, in real life and in the film. They were natural, spontaneous, and spirited.  At 10 and 6 years old in the film they provided the humor and the 10 year old gave what was a narrative from time to time that gave background information not otherwise explained by other characters.  She was scripted to do so in a way that was not at all stilted or invasive.  It was part of her character to be the observer who opened up at rare times while her younger sister was the spontaneous joker and emotional one.  When the 10 year old said to her father toward the end of the film, "I am the one who has been holding this family together for the past year", it was an entirely believable comment, and that's spoken here as both an observer of the film as a parent who has seen the capacity for maturity in young children.

Of course, after watching the film I turned to Wikipedia and learned that it has been a widely respected film when released, with one player nominated for best actress and one for best supporting actor.  It was not a major hit at the box office, although it probably met or exceeded its expenses with $25mm in sales.  It is unclear whether this would have been seen here in 2002 or 2003 even if my work schedule at the time did allow more time for films.

"In America" was a good film to see tonight, and that was all that was needed here and much more than what was expected.


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