Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese (“The Departed,” 2006) presents this epic, trans-Atlantic love story romance starring Charlotte Gainsbourg (“21 Grams”) and Vincenzo Amato (“Respiro”) as immigrants who fall in love during a voyage from the Old World to New York at the turn-of-the-20th century. But neither of the newfound sweethearts is prepared for the tumultuous events at Ellis Island, where their families are separated, stretching the limits of their passion. The breathtaking story is a testament to the American dream and the people who risked everything for it.
Dubbed by Variety as “imaginative, intelligent and attractive,” Golden Door was the 2006 winner of the Venice Film Festival’s Silver Lion Award and an official selection at last year’s Toronto Film Festival as well as the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. Director Emanuele Crialese received a Best Director nomination at the 2006 European Film Awards.
Golden Door writer-director Emanuele Crialese often employs his native Italy, including actor Amato, in his films. He directed Amato in “Respiro,” a 2002 comedy-drama that earned a pair of Cannes Film Festival Critics Prizes.
The Brit-born Gainsbourg previously starred in filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jane Eyre” and the Bob Dylan inspired “I’m Not There” from writer-director Todd Haynes.
It’s easy to see why this title would appeal so much to Martin Scorsese. The film opens with him giving a brief background on the film and why he appreciates it so. His appreciation aside however, the director Emanuele Crialese seems to enjoy a similar directing style to Mr. Scorsese. Perhaps this is where the other portion of appeal comes from.
In all seriousness though, after viewing Golden Door, I sat there thinking what a beautiful and well constructed film I had just watched. However, in the same thought, I recognized the sneer weirdness of the film. Perhaps something was lost on me since I’m unfamiliar with the Italian culture. I found myself confused at multiple parts of the film, I’m still trying to figure out if the “river of milk” had a sufficient meaning or if it was just another example of extraordinary optimism that early 20th century immigrants had at that time about America. In the closing scene, the “river” appears again, and I can appreciate the symbolism here of those wading in it are those that are now entering this new world. They’ve made it pass the tests of intelligence and the medical check-ups of Ellis Island. Now they can finally start their new lives.
I had one other bone to pick with this one, and that is the description for this film. It is described as a stunning romantic drama, that Salvatore, an Italian, and Lucy, a British girl, find themselves in the blossom of a new romance. There are absolutely no scenes that would lead you believe you’re watching a romantic drama. I will note that in the middle of the film, you see Lucy is without a doubt an element of intrigue and desire to many of the men. She keeps to herself for the most part, socializing with the people in route to the new world, but remaining closed off and withdrawn. The viewer soon learns that she must have a man with her to enter the new world. Apparently, she had been deported because she hadn’t had one the previous time. All of this being established Lucy asks Salvatore to marry her and quickly adds that it is so she can gain entry into the country and certainly not for love. As interesting looks are exchanged throughout the rest of the film, that is the extent of the so-called “romance”.
With all that being said, I did actually find it to be a rather enjoyable film. Fans of foreign films and of the style of Scorsese’s earlier work will definitely enjoy this film as well. Others may find it a bit to confusing, but if you can hang in there, you’ll be extremely glad you did.
Review by Emma Loggins
Official site: http://www.goldendoor-movie.com/
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