I was faced with a choice, at a difficult age. Would I write a book, or should I take to the stage

Monday, March 1

In America

Here's a story of a penniless Irish family who inexplicably move to New York after Something Traumatic happens. What happens then is that they move into a tumble-down tenament full of junkies and tramps, and make a Wonderful Life for themselves.

What's good about it:
1.Samantha Morton. Best Actress Oscar nominated. She won't win, but she is quite good. She's actually FAR superior in the excellent Morvern Callar (one of Fop's Top 10 films of 2003, you know). Her character didn't have a lot of screaming and wailing to do in the stylee of most Best Actress nominees, so I really was waiting the whole film for her big Actress moment. Which occurred quite uneventfully if you must know.

[Morton is one of my two favourite Irish Samathas. The other is Mumba, now sadly without a record deal.]

2. A very tense sequence in which Johnny (Paddy Considine) appears to be on the cusp of throwing away the family's rent money (Oh, No!) on a carnival game where you throw balls into a pipe. Edge of my seat! REALLY, I was.

What's bad about it:
Despite this all sounding like the resultant film might be a satisfactory thing, it's actually quite a cliché-ridden piece of melodrama. A Disney cartoon set in a crackhouse. It is, in essence, as cheesy as the Fast Food Rockers' most recent, strangely unsuccessful work "I Love Christmas (And I Love You)". Which, let's face it, never had any pretentions of being "a touching immigrant story". The overriding memory I have of In America is something untenably treacly and insubstantial.

Additionally, I found myself most uncomfortable with the character of the family's neighbour, Mateo, pleased by Djimon Hounsou, which seemed to subscribe to the troubling, oft-used cinematic notion of a solitary black man having some special, mysterious, metaphysical power, which ends up happily helping the white protagonist(s) to survive. Please see also The Green Mile, Driving Miss Daisy, and so forth.

This is more like it


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