(2002), directed by Jim Sheridan, is a heart wrenching film about an Irish
family’s move into the US and is intended to depict the collective “immigrant experience” in
Hailed by many critics as a true to reality film about migrating into the US,
capitalizes on the widely held belief that immigrants are welcomed into the country and
have the ability to easily assimilate into American society and achieve the American Dream.
Duane Dudek exemplifies this sentiment when he stated, “While the film’s title may conjure the
super-patriotism of a country music song, the deeper meaning is based in the welcoming,
reassuring family embrace into which immigrants have melted for years.”
While the family’s
Irish nationality is made to represent the ethnic tension throughout the film, a closer look reveals
that not only is this immigrant experience of assimilation into the American nationality skewed,
but that the film also pervades alarming notions of gender and sexuality.
The film begins with the Sullivan family illegally entering the US with their sights on
achieving the American Dream; Johnny (Paddy Considine), the father, hopes get his big break as
an actor in New York City and improve his family’s quality of life.
The film’s opening song,
“Do You Believe In Magic,” combined with shots of different racial groups depicting America’s
diversity, reiterates the optimism this Irish immigrant family holds in their hearts about ‘America
the Melting Pot’ and its vast opportunities.
Immediately, however, it is made clear that their assimilation won’t be as effortless as
they had assumed, as both parents have difficulty finding work and a place to live.
however, are assimilating rather swiftly, as noted when Ariel (Emma Bolger), the youngest
daughter, uses the phrase “cool” when they arrive at their new apartment to which her older
sister, Christy (Sarah Bolger), replies with, “You’re becoming American already… it’s
The family’s Irish origins are emphasized in their daily interactions and it is this