Peter Miller's Sacco and Vanzetti could have been the purest bathos, being as it is the moving story of how two Italian immigrants came to America looking for a better life, only to find racial prejudice and railroaded justice. A producer on some of Ken Burns' landmark docu-series, Miller has a firebrand's sense of injustice -- more often muffled in Burns' down-the-middle films -- which he lets show here from the start in no uncertain terms, but doesn't completely allow to wrest the story away from him. That is, the desire to make political points is very much in evidence here (why else to place lefty historian and People's History of the United States author Howard Zinn as one of the primary talking heads?) but it doesn't often overwhelm Miller's need as a documentarian to record the truth in some unvarnished fashion. Not often. There are times, of course, when the indignation and need to place Sacco and Vanzetti in the hallowed hall of left-wing martyrs takes over completely, as when one interviewee states that the story should be referred to as "The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti."
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Still with me? Good. Now you're fully equipped to grasp the dramatic tension of this comedic enterprise from EdTV writer Émile Gaudreault. If you're getting the sense that this is a flimsy flick, you're right on target. This movie falls into the classic trap of reducing the depth and complexity of one culture to its lowest common denominator in an effort to liberate another culture from stereotype.
Continue reading: Mambo Italiano Review
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