GOLDEN DOOR (Emanuele Crialese). 112 minutes. Subtitles. Opens Friday (June 15). Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Exquisite period recreation marks this tale about the journey of Sicilian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century to Ellis Island in steerage class. Just before setting off, they meet a British woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who wants to get married before the ship arrives in New York.
The early portions, set in Sicily, have the sort of deadly serious compositional balance you see in the Taviani brothers' Sicilian films, such as Chaos, and the shipboard sections convey a sense of the claustrophobia that must have driven some passengers mad.
On the other hand, the pacing is very slow. The Italian title is Nuovomondo (New World), but for the first third of the film we're in Sicily, and at the 85-minute mark we're still on the boat.
I wish director Emanuele Crialese, best known here for Respiro, had the epic sensibility demanded by the subject. I'm thinking of the kind of sweep Visconti or Coppola in his prime might have given the film.
In Crialese's hands, you never get a sense that anything exists outside the frame.