After chronicling various chapters of Irish history in such films as In the Name of the Father and The Field, writer/director Jim Sheridan turns his lens upon his own family's experiences immigrating to the United States in the aptly titled In America. The loosely autobiographical script centers on Johnny (Paddy Considine), a young actor sneaking his wife, Sarah (Samantha Morton), and daughters, Christy and Ariel (real-life sisters Sarah and Emma Bolger, respectively), over the Canadian border in the hopes of jump-starting his career in New York City. They soon find that America is not the land of boundless opportunity, however, as they move into a dank, dilapidated apartment building populated by drug dealers, transients, and thugs. Johnny doesn't snag auditions as easily as he may have hoped, and he and Sarah are forced to take meager jobs after spending their savings on food, rent, and utilities. Still in grief over the untimely death of their toddler son back in Ireland, the couple find their relationship further strained by the pressures of life in the city. Little by little, however, things begin to look up for the fiercely protective family unit, especially when they befriend an eccentric artist neighbor named Mateo (Djimon Hounsou). In America saw its world premiere at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival and played to enthusiastic crowds at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival before its theatrical release in the fall of that year.
by Michael Hastings synopsis