Golden Door

"OK"

Golden Door Review


The immigrant experience in the United States is typically viewed through two particularly rosy set of historical glasses. The first version pits strong-willed foreigners against the elements to hear freedom's sweet, sweet ring. The other offers gritty, no-nonsense realism highlighting the mighty struggles (both personal and logistical) of picking up ancestral stakes and starting a new life elsewhere. Somewhere in the middle of these competing conceits is Nuovomondo (translation: "New World," but now known as Golden Door), a fascinating if ultimately flawed film by Italian director Emanuele Crialese. By combining a dour portrait of migrant misadventures with flights of slightly surrealistic fantasy, we are supposed to see both sides of the issue. Instead, the battling approaches cancel each other out, resulting in an effort that fails to resonate emotionally.

When we first meet the Mancuso boys -- oldest son Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato) and the younger Angelo -- they are climbing up the side of a Sicilian peak, their mouths laden with rocks. As part of some arcane, unexplained ritual, the brothers are seeking a sign as to whether to travel to America. When Salvatore's deaf mute son Pietro shows up, photos of the new world in hand, the images of gigantic produce and money-stocked trees settle the debate. Grabbing his resistant mother and a pair of promised brides, they make their way from the country to the sea, where they must endure the elaborate (and corrupt) process of finding passage. During their trials, Salvatore meets a proper English woman named Lucy (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Rumored to be anything from royalty to a prostitute, one thing is certain: The lady needs a husband to help her gain access at Ellis Island. After refusing the advances of a marriage broker (the late Vincent Schiavelli), she sets her sights on Salvatore.

For the first 70 minutes or so, Golden Door wants to be a very brave and focused feature. It offers up the opening rite with nary a word of context, and when the arranged brides show up for an exorcism (?), the superstitious ceremony is all sly smoke and mirrors. Walking through the barren landscape, their hopes pinned on making it to the so-called Promised Land, these dirty, downtrodden people could be the poster children for the Statue of Liberty's poetic lament. But then Crialese offers the first moment of magic realism -- Salvatore dreams of a rainstorm of money -- and the authenticity wanes. By the time he envisions a group of revelers carrying huge carrots and tree-trunk-sized olives, the movie has lost its bearings. Such stylized ideals don't completely undermine the film, but they do appear in sharp contrast to the textural despair presented previously.

But Crialese also makes other artistic choices that tend to dampen the overall scope. When traveling aboard ship, we never really get a handle on how huge or (in retrospect) how small and cramped the accommodations are. Everything is shot in set-saving semi-close up. During a supposed storm, it is up to the actors, not the effects, to sell the boat's dangerous thrashing. When we do get above deck, the movie stays in tight and conversational. Fog shrouds any shot of America, and Ellis Island looks like a lovingly recreated location, never juxtaposed against any recognizable backdrop. Certainly, there are scenes that work wonderfully (the marriage call, with its sudden proposed-to shocks, the mother's defiant resistance to the various "intelligence" tests), but for the most part, Golden Door is all façade and no force. It wants to be true to the immigrant spirit. Sadly, it relies too often on the more ethereal definition of that term to make its point.

Aka Nuevomondo.

We're ready for the boat.



Golden Door

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd September 2006

Box Office USA: $0.9M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: Banque Populaire Images 6, Cofimage 16, Cofinova 2, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, mementoFilm, Respiro, Sofica Europacorp, Titti Film, Wild Bunch

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Fresh: 63 Rotten: 24

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Bernard Bouix, , Alexandre Mallet-Guy

Starring: as Lucy Reed, as Salvatore Mancuso, Aurora Quattrocchi as Fortunata Mancuso, as Angelo Mancuso, as Pietro Mancuso, as Don Luigi, Federica De Cola as Rita D'Agostini, Isabella Ragonese as Rosa Napolitano, Massimo Laguardia as Mangiapane, Filippo Luna as Don Ercole, Andrea Prodan as Del Fiore, Ernesto Mahieux as Dr. Zampino

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.