When we first meet the Mancuso boys -- oldest son Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato) and the younger Angelo -- they are climbing up the side of a Sicilian peak, their mouths laden with rocks. As part of some arcane, unexplained ritual, the brothers are seeking a sign as to whether to travel to America. When Salvatore's deaf mute son Pietro shows up, photos of the new world in hand, the images of gigantic produce and money-stocked trees settle the debate. Grabbing his resistant mother and a pair of promised brides, they make their way from the country to the sea, where they must endure the elaborate (and corrupt) process of finding passage. During their trials, Salvatore meets a proper English woman named Lucy (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Rumored to be anything from royalty to a prostitute, one thing is certain: The lady needs a husband to help her gain access at Ellis Island. After refusing the advances of a marriage broker (the late Vincent Schiavelli), she sets her sights on Salvatore.
Continue reading: Golden Door Review
A grim yet hopeful, fablistic slice-of-life drama from Italian writer-director Emanuele Crialese ("Once We Were Strangers"), "Respiro" stars Valeria Golino (best known in the US for "Rain Man" and "Hot Shots!") as Grazia, a passionate, misunderstood, unstable young mother whose adoring husband and teenage son try to protect her from the scorn of their Mediterranean island fishing village.
It's a struggling but uncomplicated place of hard lives where the worst problem is rival gangs of bored, wayward, stray-dog-like boys. But the gossipy populace finds itself increasingly concerned with the bipolar behavior of the beautiful, stormy Grazia, who is unpredictable and prone to both acute joy and dangerous fits of melancholy.
But she takes comfort in the love of her fisherman husband (Vincenzo Amato), who defends her honor even when embarrassed by her, and in her special relationship with her teenage son Pasquale (Francesco Casisa). So devoted is the young man to his mother that he stays home to paint her toenails as a pick-me-up when she takes to her bed in a deep blue funk. So dependent on Pasquale is Grazia that she clings to him needily as he drives her around the village on his Vespa day after day.
Continue reading: Respiro Review