Film Review – The Immigrant (2013)

Immigrant - post

Title – The Immigrant (2013)

Director – James Gray (We Own the Night)

Cast – Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner

Plot – In the 1920’s of New York, Polish immigrant Ewa (Cotillard) finds herself at the behest of ‘entertainment” businessman Bruno Weiss (Phoenix), a man whose affections for Ewa continue to cloud his judgment. When Bruno’s cousin and magician Emil (Renner) arrives on the scene, complicated matters between Ewa and Bruno continue to unravel.

“Is it a sin for me to survive when I have done so many bad things?”

Review by Eddie on 1/06/2015

A film that looks more lavish and feels more epic than its minimalistic budget constraints should’ve allowed, James Gray’s finely crafted and at times movingly harsh 1920’s set period drama The Immigrant is a well-made and intentioned piece of filmmaking yet there is little denying that the film lacks a certain something that would’ve made it really fly and become something more than what it is upon conclusion.

James Gray is a solid filmmaker; you would argue that he is yet to make a truly bad film and his directional skills of the Immigrant showcase once more that he is an accomplished artist. The combination of musical score, well framed shots by DOP Darius Khondji and a well-crafted production design combine to make The Immigrant live and breathe 1920’s and the film feels alive because of it. You get the feeling that if Gray had acquired more financing the film could’ve become a well spectacle that would’ve gone hand in hand with the human drama and created something really quite special. It’s where Gray arguably shines the most, in his human storytelling and like his films We Own the Night and The Yards, Gray and his well acquitted cast have some great moments in this undeniably bleak story.

Once more teaming up with Joaquin Phoenix Gray’s film really does belong to Marion Cotillard. Cotillard’s Ewa is a determined, likeable and above all else decent human being caught up in a whirlwind of unfortunate circumstances and her journey to America to find a better life and her travails once there is a believable and often heartbreaking tale. It’s another expertly acted turn by Cotillard and she finds herself out acting the always good Joaquin Phoenix and poor old Jeremy Renner who is left a little in the dust of these two in the somewhat shoddy role of magician Emil. With the appearance of Emil The Immigrant faces it’s toughest hurdle as a love triangle of sorts builds, the film struggles to maintain it’s down to earth believable vibe and a few too many narrative stumbles really hurt the films progression despite a nicely staged and effecting finale.

Watchable and often powerful, The Immigrant is a very solid drama that gets bogged down in some questionable narrative arcs and an at times undeniable lack of funds/crew to make the film take off to what it so easily could’ve been. Some great turns by Cotillard and Phoenix are the main reasons to check this tale out and for diehard fans of Gray, it’s another great example of a director who looks likely to develop a true classic at any given moment.

3 and a half lucky scarves out of 5

11 responses to “Film Review – The Immigrant (2013)

    • Ha sorry man I was replying to the wrong movie! I really thought they did well with the budget they had here and agreed, the strength of this film was in its performances from Cotilard and Phoenix. They were both great, with Marion award worthy.

      • I don’t think just throwing more money at the film would have changed it, though. The strength of the picture is in the intimacy and nuance of the characters, particularly Cotillard’s since she acts so well in devastating close-up/

  1. I think I missed this completely when it was out. Might need to check it out at some point being an immigrant myself.

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