The immigrant

James Gray’s film The immigrant begins in 1921 at Ellis Island. Newcomer Ewa Cybulska (Marion Cotillard) sees her sister, Magda, quarantined because of TB. Ewa is about to be deported back to the war-torn Poland she is trying to escape. Enter Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix) who bribes the officer and ‘saves’ her. Ewa soon finds out she’ll have to perform in Bruno’s burlesque show and prostitute herself, with the promise of one day be reunited with Magda. And then Ewa meets Orlando (Jeremy Renner), a magician. He is also Bruno’s estranged cousin, and like Bruno, falls in love with Ewa. The immigrant feels like an adaptation of a literary, but is actually based on Gray’s grandparents. Certainly it is well made, but I found it was somehow lacking the right chemistry between the many elements of the film. The acting is a good case in point. Marion Cotillard plays melodrama exactly like it should be played in 2014: with subtleties and restraints. A real class act. Joaquin Phoenix’s Bruno is threatening, then obsessed and later a kind soul after having received a beating by the police. Phoenix has good moments at first, but later overplay terribly. As for Jeremy Renner… well, it is a mess. There always seems to be something that prevented me from enjoying The immigrant.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


The immigrant

Directed by: 
James Gray
Screenplay by: 
James Gray
Ric Menello
Marion Cotillard
Joaquin Phoenix
Jeremy Renner
Dagmara Dominczyk
Angela Sarafyan
120 min.
Rated 14A
In English and some Polish with English subtitles.

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