RTF316M paper 2 - In America (2002), directed by Jim...

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In America (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 America. Hailed by many critics as a true to reality film about migrating into the US, In America 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. The children, 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 disgusting.” The family’s Irish origins are emphasized in their daily interactions and it is this
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that is the presumed cause of their tribulations. However, this is almost simultaneously contradicted when Johnny is told that he will not be hired as an actor not because of his ethnicity but his lack of ability to act with any real emotion. Regardless of this realization, their Irish ethnicity is continuously reiterated throughout the film as a form of arbitrary discrimination and to emphasize the point that while they are experiencing American life, they are still not American . This serves to reinforce the notion that the key to gaining authentic American status and achieving the American Dream is for immigrants to persevere through their initial obstacles and assimilate into society. This is exemplified when a demoralized Johnny, being given a hard time by an ethnic minority convenience store owner, resentfully calls the owner, “Mr. American Dream,” implying that this
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RTF316M paper 2 - In America (2002), directed by Jim...

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