Someone Else's America (Goran Paskaljevic)

Rating: ** (out of ****)

This movie was just way too cute for me, frankly. Sweet, cuddly, befuddled illegal immigrants simultaneously pining for home and searching for the American dream...somebody get the sick bucket, as Nicola so succinctly puts it in Life Is Sweet. To be fair, Paskaljevic does attempt to inject a bit of social realism now and then -- there's an interesting subplot involving the protagonist's son, for example, who maliciously uproots his entire family in order to come to the U.S. and make a quick buck -- but basically what we have here is a rather treacly fable, populated by characters about as genuine as, but much less funny than, Balki in "Perfect Strangers." Miki Manojlovic does fine work as Bayo, our hero from the former Yugoslavia (like Rade Serbedzija in Before the Rain, he effortlessly projects a soulful ruggedness that is immediately and intensely likable...something in the water there?), but Tom Conti, as usual, mugs up a storm, and his Spanish romantic sadsack in this film is virtually indistinguishable from his Greek romantic sadsack in Shirley Valentine. Get this man a new shtick. Occasionally amusing, and unquestionably well-intentioned, Someone Else's America works overtime to tug your heartstrings; I'm afraid that I resisted. Those with a greater tolerance for and/or appreciation of unbridled optimism and kooky shenanigans alternating with forced pathos may feel differently. (Now there's an objective viewpoint. Funny, I don't see anyone raising their hand...)