Movie Review by Silvia Felce
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vincenzo Amato, Aurora Quattrocchi
Director: Emanuele Crialese
Rivers of milk, giant onions and the promise of vast lands, where big coins grow on trees. That is the New World for poor Italian people at the beginning of the twentieth century – people who lived in small rural towns, speaking largely only local dialects.
GOLDEN DOOR tells the story of Salvatore Mancuso (Vincenzo Amato), a Sicilian man who decides to take his family, two sons and his old mother (Aurora Quattrocchi), to America in search of his twin brother, but mostly to escape their difficult and deprived life. As the film follows the Mancuso family on their journey to the New World, we are introduced to a few other characters, all leaving Italy with the same dream, and their small stories merge into one larger narrative.
Once the boat arrives in America, the emigrants are holed up in Ellis Island where they are checked one by one and those considered unfit or not clever enough (watch out for the intelligence tests) are sent back home. We are actually never shown America, as the story is about the journey of these characters both physically and psychologically.
Emanuele Crialese chooses to represent these characters caught between dreams and reality – showing us the dirty and rough hands of people that have been working the land all their lives then showing them bathing in a river of milk, where a huge carrot floats around. Better known for his almost neo-realistic approach in RESPIRO, his previous film, here Crialese’s unusual mixture gives the film an extra touch, thus the audience is completely involved with the characters as it can both see and feel for them, see their pains and their dreams.
This is a beautiful and touching story, told through amazing characters and represented in a very poetic and inspiring way with stunning photography. This film is a delight both to the eyes and to the heart.