Sicilian peasant Salvatore yearns for a better life, one he believes exists only in the fabled land known as America where carrots grow taller than men, rivers flow with milk and golden coins rain from the trees. He sells everything he owns to make the trans-Atlantic passage with his two sons and elderly mother. On the perilous steamship crossing, Salvatore meets a mysterious, worldly Englishwoman, Lucy (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and an unexpected romance unfolds. But neither Salvatore nor Lucy is prepared for the arrival at Ellis Island, where families are inspected, interrogated and split apart. They will have to bravely face their personal and collective dilemmas in order to become part of the American dream.
Swiping its title from the inscription on the Statue of Liberty ("I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"), Emanuele Crialese's third film manages to be epic and quirky at the same time. In most coming-to-America stories set during the turn-of-the century, a prologue establishes the central character's birthplace. Then, he boards a ship. In the next scene, he disembarks on American soil. The rest of the movie concerns his (or her) efforts to adjust to a new culture. Crialese (Respiro) ditches that last part altogether. Instead, he builds his entire narrative around the Mancuso familyâ€™s journey from Sicily to New York. First, he introduces the deeply superstitious clan. Feisty matriarch Fortunata (Aurora Quattrocchi) is a healer. Her son, Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato), is a widowed farmer with two sons and a vivid imagination. Informed that America's vegetables are as big as men and that California's rivers are made of milk, Salvatore becomes obsessed with these images. While boarding the steamer to the States, he meets well-born Englishwoman Lucy (a redheaded Charlotte Gainsbourg, The Science of Sleep). She takes a shine to Salvatore, who keeps an eye on her throughout the voyage. Once they land at Ellis Island, the new arrivals realize their journey is far from over. There are medical inspections and intelligence tests, and those found wanting will be deported. Crialese concludes with one of Salvatore's imaginings writ large--suffice to say, it concerns milk. With the late Vincent Schiavelli (Amadeus) as a marriage broker. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
14 Pictures of Golden Door (2006)
6 Poster Pictures of Golden Door (2006)
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