Gillian Flynn
December 05, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

”In America” is a family movie. Literally. Directed by Jim Sheridan (”My Left Foot”), from a screenplay he wrote with daughters Kirsten, 29, and Naomi, 31, the sweet story is based on the Sheridans’ immigration from Ireland to Manhattan in the early ’80s. Combining three sets of memories wasn’t simple — Jim was a tad underwhelmed by his daughters’ initial versions: ”I danced and sang the wrong words to songs, and I came home drunk,” he says. ”The rest of the story was the angst of being a child moved around by mad parents.” Finally, Sheridan pere created a useful plot spine: ”In America”’s parents (Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton) are reeling from the death of their young son (based on Jim’s late brother, Frankie). Onto that through line, the Sheridans were able to pack their Manhattan memories — their slummy, artist-filled apartment building, the shock of Hell’s Kitchen humidity, Jim’s attempts at acting. They swear they rarely clashed over whose anecdotes made the cut. ”We argued over stupider things,” Naomi says. ”Like where to eat.”

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