America is an amazing movie that tackles the subjects surrounding the problems of the foster care system in the USA. Based on the book by E.R. Frank, Rosie O'Donnell has skillfully and sensitively portrayed the story of America Vega a 16 year old about to time out of the system.
Although this is a dramatization it seems to be very true to life and is a serious depiction of the growing problem that needs to be addressed and improved upon urgently. We see flashbacks of this boy’s life who feels unloved, uncared for and as though he has no-one to rely on. The saddest thing about this movie is that it is happening every day to children trapped in this system.
Rosie also directed and starred in the movie and plays Dr. Maureen Brennan a Therapist in the facility where America lives, and helps him to get his life back on track. The casting is perfection and you really wouldn’t believe that this is Philip Johnson’s first acting gig. His depiction of America was truly amazing and he really owned the role. When he meets a girl he finds a glimmer of hope that someone might really care. She has her own problems but this does not prevent them from bonding.
Ruby Dee’s gave us her usual exemplary performance. You will remember her from such things as The Stand and The Golden Girls to name but a few. She has been an activist for years and marched for civil rights. As Mrs. Harper she shows America some love, something the boy was sadly short on.
O’Donnell a foster parent herself has adopted children and apparently was so moved by the book she wrote the screenplay to highlight the plight of the systems forgotten children. This is clearly a direct cry and a ringing bell to get people to look at the situation and I think people should take notice.
Apparently a high percentage of children leaving the system either end up dead or in prison. These are America’s children that are being let down. I found myself drawn to want to do something or at least try to make things a little better so I’m checking out http://www.nationalcasa.org/ to see what can be done. Check it out and see what you can do too.
Love & Peace Xan
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Xander Gibb has written for many publications and writes with an unapologetic response to the world around.