Following the tragic death of their five-year-old son Frankie, Irish couple Johnny and Sarah Sullivan and their remaining two offspring, 10 year old Christy Sullivan and 5 year old Ariel Sullivan, emigrate illegally to the United States via Canada with little in their pockets. Their final destination is Manhattan where Johnny hopes to work as a stage actor. They move into a unit in a run town tenement housed primarily with drug addicts, transvestites and one tenant coined "the man who screams". They do whatever they can to eke out a supportive family environment in this difficult situation, the support which ultimately extends to those around them, most specifically "the screamer" who turns out to be an African-American artist named Mateo with AIDS. But the memory of Frankie hangs over the family in good and bad ways, especially as Sarah learns she's pregnant. Christy, who records their life's goings-on with her beloved camcorder, believes that the angel of Frankie has granted her ... Written by
Jim Sheridan said in interview that the character of Frankie, the dead son, was based Frankie Sheridan, his late brother. The film is dedicated to this Frankie in closing credits. See more »
When Christy is helping Johnny learn his lines at the café (after visiting Sarah in the hospital), Ariel's two front teeth are adult teeth. In the next scene, when Ariel and Christy are in bed, they are back to being baby teeth. See more »
There's some things you should wish for and some things you shouldn't. That's what my little brother Frankie told me. He told me I only had three wishes, and I looked into his eyes, and I don't know why I believed him.
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Special thanks to ... staff and patients at Grangegorman, Dublin, ... residents of Parnell Street, Dublin ... See more »
Do You Believe in Magic
Performed by The Lovin' Spoonful
Written by John Sebastian
Published by Robbins Music Corporation Ltd. / EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
Licensed courtesy of Buddah Records / BMG U.K. & Ireland Ltd. See more »
A lot of strengths but they cannot over come the sentimental melodrama at the heart of the film
Although they tell border control that they are on holiday, Johnny, Sarah and their two daughters have immigrated illegally into the US in the early 1980's. They move to New York into a block full of junkies and down-and-outs. With little money and no friends the family face all manner of stresses and strains in their present and from their past stresses that threaten the family unit and their future together.
The names in this project attracted me to it and I did have high hopes for it. The film itself though is a strange, rather frustratingly mixed affair that is really good in some regards but annoyingly soapy in others. The plot is not really a plot in the traditional sense but more the recollections of moving into the new world told from the perspective of elder daughter Christy. I was fine with this approach and hoped that it would be convincing, engaging, moving and so on. Although you can see everyone working against it, the film cannot avoid the spirit of sentimentality and soapy-drama seeping into the majority of the scenes. This takes away from the grit and reality of the drama and does make it harder to get into because it doesn't engage in the way that the same events may have if they had been delivered with more grit and less of the soapy-inspirational quality.
It is a shame that the film cannot shake this off but it is not the fault of the cast who are roundly really good. Considine yet again gives me good reason to respect him as an actor, likewise Morton who works well with him as well as individually. They are really well supported by two very natural and engaging performances from the Bolger sisters; they are "cute kids" but not in a way that is cloying or annoying. Hounsou has a strong presence in the film and to his credit he delivers this despite the material handed him not because of it. The cast doesn't really have a weakness and one can only imagine what this film would have been if Sheridan had been given people capable of a lot less.
Overall then this is a mixed affair. The performances and direction makes it better than it could otherwise have been, but these cannot shake off the sentimentality and soapy feel that much of it has. The end result is a film that has great moments and a story that I really wanted to lose myself in but ultimately was just too melodramatic at its core for all the strengths to totally overcome.
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