Friday, April 02, 2004

Movie: "In America"

I think I'm typically a story guy. I tend to favor films with plots and ideas and jokes. Character dramas, on the other hand, usually aren't my thing. I wasn't aware that was what "In America" was going to be, but I ended up being fairly satisfied with it in the end.

To my pleasure, on several occasions, the film didn't go where I expected it to. The apartment was not used as a means to have the junkies exploit the family or harass the women. The E.T. doll (whose presence tickled me) was actually won. And Mateo, of course, turned out to be nothing like we feared. I must admit some surprise that Hounsou received a nomination for appearing in such a relatively small percentage of the film, but Mateo is integral to the story, and Hounsou plays him powerfully in every scene.

Given the title, I had expected there to be more commentary on the nature of America. There were bits and pieces (such as the girls wanting to blend in) but nothing overbearing. Perhaps by showing us glimpses of various aspects of America, rather than dwelling on particular stereotypes, the filmmakers hoped to illustrate the broader soul of the country. On one hand there may be the friendly guy who'll pull a knife on you for a dollar, but then there's also the angry hermit who proves to be extraordinarily generous.

Is it a film I want to own. Not really; it's not the sort of film I'd watch over and again. But I certainly recommend it.


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