The next time you’re wandering around Blockbuster wondering if there’s been a worthwhile movie made in the last ten years, walk on past the latest offerings from Steve Martin (who just ain’t the same), Eddie Murphy (see Steve Martin), and Ben Affleck (who, let’s be honest, is just lucky to be Matt Damon’s friend) and pick up a copy of In America.
Despite critical acclaim and several awards (including three major Oscar nominations), you may have never heard of it. That’s mostly because there’s a conspiracy in Hollywood to get you to spend your money on really bad movies that eat away at your brain and act like novocain for your soul. I’m not some film elitist – I watch my share of stuff that leaves me feeling stupider than I was two hours prior. But I’m trying to watch less of that, and I’m urging you to do the same. So give this one a shot.
As I recently told a friend (as I was recommending this movie), I think taste in movies is one of those things that can jeopardize your pride a bit, especially when you’re willing to admit you really hate or really like something. But what’s pride to me anyway?
Amy and I loved In America. It’s a story about a young Irish family who moves to Hell’s Kitchen (one of the few areas of NYC I’m mildly familiar with) in the early 1980’s looking for a new start. It’s deep and sweet and sad and funny and all different kinds of emotionally brilliant. The writing is superb, and all of the major performances are outstanding. Djimon Hounsou could probably stand in the middle of the frame and read from the Wall Street Journal and he’d be riveting. He’s one of those unique figures whose presence on screen changes a film. And it’s pretty rare that I’m truly affected by a child actor, but the two girls in this film (who are actually sisters) are extraordinary…utterly captivating.