IN AMERICA (2003) (****)
The amazing thing about this film isn't that its concept is anything groundbreakingly original, but that it succeeds in telling a familiar tale with such originality and genuine heart.
After losing their son Frankie in an accident, Johnny (Paddy Considine, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE) moves his family – wife Sarah (Samantha Morton, MINORITY REPORT) and daughters Christy (Sarah Bolger, TV's A SECRET AFFAIR) and Ariel (Emma Bolger, INTERMISSION) – to New York City to try his hand at an acting career. The family struggles living in an apartment with junkies and overcoming the great sorrow of losing Frankie.
The way the story uses the mundane problems of a poor family -- like living in an overly hot apartment – to such poetic extent is amazing and powerful. The family befriends their downstairs neighbor Mateo (Djimon Hounsou, AMISTAD), who is an angry, struggling artist suffering from AIDS. This relationship brings up insecurities between Johnny and Sarah as well as larger life and death issues.