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GOLDEN DOOR (Nuovomondo)(director/writer: Emanuele Crialese; cinematographer: Agnès Godard; editor: Maryline Monthieux; music: Antonio Castriganò; cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg (Lucy), Vincenzo Amato (Salvatore Mancuso), Aurora Quattrocchi (Fortunata), Francesco Casisa (Angelo), Filippo Pucillo (Pietro Mancuso), Vincent Schiavelli (Don Luigi), Federica De Cola (Rita D’Agostini), Isabella Ragonese (Rosa Napolitano), Filippo Luna (Don Ercole); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Alexandre Mallet-Guy/Fabrizio Mosca/Emanuele Crialese; Miramax Films; 2007-Italy-English and Italian with English subtitles)
“Not as inspiring as it should be.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title is lifted from the Emma Lazarus poem engraved on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty. The Sicilian-born Emanuele Crialese (“Respiro”) directs this sparse dialogue and tedious lyrical portrait of a rural impoverished peasant Sicilian family, from the hilly town of Petralia, the Mancusos. The patriarch is the illiterate and superstitious farmer Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato) and he has teenage sons Angelo (Francesco Casisa) and the younger deaf-mute son Pietro (Filippo Pucillo), who both go with him to America even though they want to stay. Also dragged into making the journey is the widower’s reluctant aged old-fashioned healer mother Fortunata (Aurora Quattrocchi). The arduous week long ocean voyage (the gist of the film) takes place in 1913 to the imagined fairy tale land of America, where Salvatore’s twin brother went first and has sent them trick postcards having them believe money grows there on trees and onions are as big as donkey carts.

The local don (Filippo Luna) persuades Salvatore to escort two young women (Federica De Cola, Isabella Ragonese) to America, whose marriages he arranged to Americans, and while at the dock Salvatore agrees to let the unaccompanied and mysterious out-of-place aristocratic looking British redhead Lucy (Charlotte Gainsbourg) travel with him in steerage. After the difficult journey they arrive at Ellis Island and are treated like animals by a bureaucratic assembly line of white-coated doctors dead set on weeding out “undesirables.” The film stops here, as the arrival is the thing and we go no further to see how they make out but leave them with their fears and hopes.

Whatever the film has going for it in the way of stunning images by cinematographer Agnés Godard, it’s drained of its drama by a static tableaux presentation that moves at a snail’s pace and leaves the iconic story not as inspiring as it should be.

But, please if you can, tell me what those two Nina Simone songs are doing in this pic?

REVIEWED ON 12/23/2007 GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”