'The Golden Door'

Emanuele Crialese's poetic tale of emigration at the turn of the 20th century follows an illiterate Sicilian farmer (Vincenzo Amato) and his family who, after seeing doctored photographs of money growing on trees, set their sights on America. Clinging to their meager belongings as tightly as they do their old world superstitions, they arrive at Ellis Island, shadowed by a mysterious English woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and are treated like animals: poked, prodded, and interrogated by an assembly line of white-coated doctors intent on weeding out "undesirables." The film is a portrait gallery of faces, its long stretches of silence broken only by sounds in nature: the braying of donkeys, the moaning of the ship as it lurches forward. With dialogue kept to a minimum, cinematographer Agnés Godard confirms her status as one of the most extraordinary visual artists working today.

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