Emanuele Crialese's new film may have many pondering about their own forbearers.
In Italian with English subtitles, Golden Door is a thoughtful, if slightly flagging humanistic drama with political undertones centering on the Mancuso clan looking to relocate to the land of opportunity.
Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato) forecloses on his land and animals in Sicily to join his brother in America. Luring postcards with robust vegetables and cascading milk has him getting his family together. It will become a tremulous trek to Ellis Island for those really unaware of their true Italian heritage.
For those stateside, the most recognizable cast member is the alluring Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams) as an Englishwoman looking for her own family.
The human interaction is captured in rare, intimate form with the sweeping backdrop there to behold. From the immigrant perspective, the storytelling is vivid and often penetrating even if the pacing may feel too heavily anchored at times.
Striking and simplistic, the exposition isn't necessary to divulge from a filmmaking standpointe. Thus, the understated sensitivity and nuance in these people are genuinely palpable, especially in the visage of an accomplished performer like Gainsbourg. The expressiveness also extends to the New Wave style shot with a painterly, delicate approach by lenser Agnes Godard. It contrasts nicely with Crialese's previously atmospheric and naturalistic Respiro.
Golden Door understands the contemporary laws against old customs, and the haughty versus the idealistic takes hold in a fairly clever manner. The storminess extends to a trafficking that is troubling given the backstory of such ships. Crialese's picture, nevertheless, sails in a very affecting, satisfying way even through the Ellis Island finale.