In 1986, Louis Malle set out to investigate the ever-widening range of immigrant experience in America. Interviewing a variety of newcomers in middle- and working-class communities from coast to coast, Malle paints a generous, humane portrait of their individual struggles.
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You can time-travel back three decades and still not escape Trump’s swamp, but Malle’s compassionate movie, alert throughout to injustice, also optimistically suggests that many of these lives will turn out okay, against redoubtable odds.
An exquisite, unflinching, but ultimately hopeful documentary on the state of the American dream -- which is, of course, not really "American" at all, but a more or less (where more=better) universal longing for versions of dignity and independence that can co-exist peaceably with an always evolving sense of shared community. Malle is as wry and humane a guide as one could hope for. Even his dangling boom mics charm.
30 years later, this documentary is at once a time capsule and a reminder that we haven't come far enough. Malle's vignettes move quickly and the characters he found are fascinating. I was impressed by how many loaded images there were in this great piece of documentary filmmaking! 9/10