Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 41
  2. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. 100
    In America is not unsentimental about its new arrivals (the movie has a warm heart and frankly wants to move us), but it is perceptive about the countless ways in which it is hard to be poor and a stranger in a new land.
  2. 100
    It's a wistful yet penetrating film, shot through with magic realism and life-affirming humor, that gets you deep down where you live.
  3. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    100
    Has a warmth that’s utterly enchanting, and a tenderness that’s genuinely touching. This is a real gem.
  4. 100
    In America is the most unexpected and personal triumph yet from Jim Sheridan.
  5. 100
    Jim Sheridan's miraculous In America, a generous but never sentimental fable of Irish immigrants in '80s New York, may be the great movie of 2003.
  6. It is that rare find: a film that is as emotionally truthful as it is satisfying.
  7. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    The movie's slight, anecdotal structure is deceptive; you wouldn't guess how big an emotional wallop it packs.
  8. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    90
    The miracle of the movie is the Bolger sisters, who are so direct and matter-of-fact that they hardly seem to be acting. But their simplicity is radiant.
  9. Magic suffuses this film -- performances that approach perfection, or achieve it, moments of exceptional grace as a troubled family plays out a contemporary version of a classic immigration saga, healing itself in the process.
  10. These people and the tale of their migration and reintegration into life’s ebb and flow will remain with the viewer long after Johnny's and Sarah’s green cards expire.
  11. 88
    Family life rarely is portrayed with such warmth, clarity and vibrancy as in In America.
  12. Wondrously emotional film, one that sneakily dismantles your defenses and purges grief you didn't realize you had.
  13. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    Touching, but not cloying, uplifting and hopeful but never sappy and also just plain funny. There is not a false note among the five core performances, nor a false word in Sheridan's script.
  14. 83
    It's a fresh-hearted film that only frustrates when you sense how close it is to being exceptional.
  15. Layered with elements that are both amusing and touching but never threatening to collapse into a big heap of sentimental mush.
  16. It is kept watchable and empathetic by the energy of the superb performances and the sense of complete freshness.
  17. In Sheridan's warm and glowing treatment, the moral of the story feels less like a reheated fable than like something utterly, indescribably original.
  18. Reviewed by: Meredith Brody
    80
    The result is a blend of kitchen-sink and magical realism: sentimental, but well acted and freshly observed.
  19. 75
    But there are so many beautiful, tender moments in In America -- that it's easy to forgive Sheridan's manipulative ploys.
  20. If you're looking for a bit of an uplift, you could do worse among the gloom of so many holiday dramas.
  21. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    75
    When you see a director going for that lump-in-the-throat mood, instinct takes over and you want to dig in your heels. Sometimes it's best just to let yourself be swept away.
  22. 75
    The acting is uniformly superb.
  23. In the end, is In America slight in its sentimentality and manipulative in its moral? Sure, but that's the job of any fable or myth.
  24. The script expertly captures kids' behavior.
  25. Has moments of biting tenderness, yet the movie made me wish that Sheridan had let in more of America.
  26. Reviewed by: Bob Westal
    70
    Contains enough magic and sincerity to cover the proverbial multitude of cinematic sins. And, better yet, for all the Irishness, it contains not a single alcoholic and not one barroom brawl!
  27. 70
    The film is not emotionally subtle, but it is beautifully shot, by cinematographer Declan Quinn, with a grainy, impressionistic eye that mimics a perpetual dance of shards of remembered experience.
  28. 70
    While In America doesn't convince as an immigrants-in-the-U.S. story, it resonates powerfully as a portrait of grief and reconciliation.
  29. 70
    Like a kid playing make-believe, In America is blithely confident of its own contrivances; it only benefits from a certain unselfconscious naïveté. And as with a misjudged Christmas gift or a mawkish sympathy card from a kindly relative, one can hardly doubt its uplifting intentions.
  30. A recklessly emotional film that is so committed to feelings it occasionally overflows its banks. Which may be a little messy, but it's a lot more welcome than the drought-stricken alternatives.
  31. Thanks to Jim Sheridan's graceful, scrupulously sincere direction and the dry intelligence of his cast, In America is likely to pierce the defenses of all but the most dogmatically cynical viewers.
  32. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    70
    Emma Bolger is -- no other word for it -- magical in the role...In her way she encapsulates In America's virtues. It's a realistic movie, but one that's always aware that transformative hope may be just around the corner.
  33. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Warm and borderline sentimental...also brimming with true and privileged moments, as well as an optimism in the face of tough circumstances that serves as a corrective to some of the more fashionably grim modern accounts of similar stories.
  34. 63
    It's hard to dislike a film that wants to say that the bereft have to move on with their lives, that death is part of living, and that poverty is a state of mind. But it's not impossible.
  35. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    60
    The film is marvelously acted -- the Bolger sisters are a delight -- and Sheridan captures New York City's crazy energy as only an newcomer can.
  36. 60
    Definitely designed to tug on its audience's heartstrings, a task at which it completely succeeds, In America is ultimately a solid, if unspectacular family film.
  37. Fortunately, there are more than enough moments when the heavy-handedness gives way to the sheer bliss of ordinary magic.
  38. The story has too many trite moments, but strong acting and a goodhearted attitude keep it afloat.
  39. It has its charms, but fails to strike a similar emotional chord.
  40. 50
    In short, the Sheridan of In America wants us to pity his characters for the rough ride that they endure, yet at the same time he traps them inside a bubble of the picturesque and the outlandish. Even if you like this movie, you have to ask: What has it done to deserve its title? [1 December 2003, p. 118]

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