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Plot: 1921. An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island. Runtime: 120 mins Release Date: 17 Oct 2013
Cotillard, Phoenix and Renner in the land of opportunity. (by Ser_Stephen_Seaworth)
James Gray's latest tale of melancholic woe and spirits in emotional turmoil takes us back to when America was the land of opportunity for the tired, poor, huddled masses. The director's fifth feature is once again centered in New York, where past entries like "Little Odessa" and "Two Lovers" took place, but "The Immigrant" takes us back ninety years, putting a classical spin on his typical tale.Though it's lensed with a soft focus emphasis that lends the film a dreamlike patina, "The Immigrant" doesn't shy away from scratching below the <more>
scabbed surface of the American dream, even in the first scene. The Cybalska sisters, Ewa and Magda, are among the many crowded in line at Ellis Island in 1921, waiting to be welcomed into America through the rigorous immigration process that shows that getting into the States was just as difficult then as it is now . The elder Ewa Marion Cotillard, whose haunting beauty and old-school look made her the perfect casting is a former Polish nurse who tries to advise her sickly younger sister to look well, but unfortunately, Magda is consumptive and kept in isolation from the other immigrants. Ewa herself is corralled when she is suspected of being "a woman of low morals," but before she can be deported, she is "rescued" by a man named Bruno Weiss Joaquin Phoenix, also perfectly era-appropriate , who trawls the immigration station in hopes of picking up potential new additions to his troupe.For you see, Weiss runs a burlesque show made almost entirely of young foreign ladies who escaped the ravages of the Great War to seek their fortunes here. But he takes a special kindle to Ewa, who nevertheless finds herself disliking her new livelihood and employer. Despite his rather sad-sack pursuit of Ewa's affections, Bruno still pimps her out to rich patrons. It may seem very von Trier-esque, but indeed this was not uncommon in the Big Apple back then. Yet Ewa refuses to be downtrodden, even though she has convinced herself that she is a condemned woman referenced in a crucial scene in a Catholic confessional . She even flees from Bruno's employ at one point, only to end up back where she started in Ellis Island . . . and who is waiting to bail her out by Weiss again?There is, however, a glimmer of hope for Ewa, in the form of a dashing Houdini-esque magician named Orlando. Played with relaxed charm and verve by Jeremy Renner, Orlando makes a perfect foil for Phoenix's Bruno. Orlando would traditionally be the hero of this story who gets the girl in the end, but James Gray is not interested in telling a traditional tale, even if he has taken many tropes from older works. Orlando's presence presents its own problems for Ewa, and the brewing conflict among the three central characters affects her most of all.And Gray certainly lucked out in casting Cotillard; the actress knows how to convey a soliloquy's worth of emotion with a single glance, and Cotillard's mournful, ethereal presence is used in full force here. Her dialogue is minimal, mainly reactionary save for her confessional, and yet she says more in this performance to express her situation than Cate Blanchett did in "Blue Jasmine" could with all of her broad rhapsodizing no disrespect meant to Cate . Cotillard has played in this era before, and the fact that she has the throwback beauty that would've made her a star even in the silent days makes her presence in this film all the more soulful. Also, full props on the French actress mastering the Polish accent, even whilst speaking the language! But Cotillard doesn't have to do the heavy lifting alone. Joaquin Phoenix, who's worked with Gray three times before this, continues to show why he may be the premier actor of his generation. Bruno Weiss seems to be a self-loathing man who just can't bring himself to play the hero in the traditional sense, resorting only to the shady and seedy in order to get ahead in life. Phoenix does a fine job of showing that there is a great depth to Bruno, and we sympathize with the schmuck; he works well on the stage, but when the curtains are drawn, he's at sea. Jeremy Renner, who came very close to playing the role that Phoenix made instantly iconic in "The Master", has a fantastic presence and works very well against both Joaquin and Marion. One does hope that Gray works with him in the future, hopefully in a leading part to take full advantage of his talent."The Immigrant" may rest mostly on its trinity of actors' shoulders, but it is a rich experience thanks to Gray's operatic direction, which feels like an homage to the days of both Chaplin and Coppola. I do find it to be an almost incomplete film, as I feel its ending felt more like a respite than a true completion. Perhaps it's due to the fact that I feel Gray could do so much more in this era, and tell more of this woman's story. But as it stands, I find "The Immigrant" to be a fine film with a great deal to say, and it acts as a beautiful showcase for Cotillard.
An absolute masterclass in filmmaking & acting from all involved. (by peacecreep)
A complex, nuanced, deeply affecting tale of morality and survival in 1920's New York. This is American cinema at it's finest. Nothing is black/white or good/evil in James Gray's films, instead we see intensely emotional portraits of real people struggling for happiness. Again, religion plays a central role in his work and the message, at least to me, seems to be: there is no god, there is only you. Somehow Marion Cotillard keeps getting better and better and digging deeper into her characters. She is far and away the best actress out there and continues to work with the finest <more>
filmmakers. Her confession scene in this movie was stunning, beautiful- the best shot of the year. When the credits rolled i wasn't sure what i was feeling but i knew it was worthy of deep contemplation. Pure class, pure cinema.
every frame is a silent love letter (by ohthatgigi)
The storyline is tragic but light, it's the antithesis of a traditional tears-provoking heavy story. the lightness allows us to feel the intense and paradoxical personalities of cotillard, Joaquin phoenix and Jeremy Renee. Marion simply used her eyes to manifest ewa's vulnerabilities and amazing surviving tenacity, admittedly shes a timid and innocent soul with a face that's probably too beautiful for her own good but enough to save her from the borderline of deportation. The first echelon of her character is a caring sister who will sell her dignity to protect her. Then we see <more>
the stubbornness and amazing grace of her in the theater, surving among the jealousy coworkers and even maintaining her christianitybeing a prostitute. But Marion's character development is naturally not as multiple as Joaquin phoenix's. we see a self-loathing scumbag 'gentleman', who is capable of denying his own affection toward ewa to make life ahead, everything that matters seem to do with money and this is not his fault. Exteriorly hes the charming and uncanny businessman drifting between the line of legality, bribing cops to feed his exotic girls business. Interiorly he just cannot evade from his intense possessiveness and madness of ewa, he cannot stand a single moment of ewa being with Orlando, because he knows ewa would never love him back, or he is deeply diffident of his own life and line of work, hes trying but doesn't believe he can provide protection to her. He pictured his cousin, the Orlando magician a bright version of him, casually charming and easygoing, and most importantly, with an overboard career and ewa's love. Without any doubt the self-denying prolixity and growing affection of Marion makes phoenix's role more juicy and expressive and present us the luxurious outbreak the moment he sent ewa away . With his immaculate deliverance, Bruno Weiss is alive and make us all reminiscent of somebody. The tragic story does not seem to matter that much to me, Im simply more interested in this conflicting figure. But above all, I think the most noticeable merit of this incredible film is its cinematography, every single frame is literally an oil painting with a self explanatory emotion. Sometimes is exotically vintage scenes in theater with this pleasant thespian old-school traits, and sometimes its dark boldness give us the synaesthesia of desolation and frigidity of 1920 new york city.in this perspective, the immigrant is an art piece, it makes those films which use background sceneries to escalate emotions and win critic's attention look like drama school boy production.
Absolute masterpiece, best movie I've watched in a long time (by ahmegy-914-445509)
Magnificent performance by the leading actors, and even supporting roles. Incredible set, photography, costumes, script, direction, you name it. A true chef d'oeuvre and a feast for the senses. Cotillard is out of this world in almost every scene she appears in, I would not be surprised at all if she sealed an Oscar next year, or at least a nomination. Phoenix had an outstanding performance in this emotionally charged brilliantly written and directed movie about the very depths of human nature, lust, love, greed, survival, good and evil. Renner was great too, within the frame of his role, <more>
with some unexpected events as the story unfolds. This is not a movie where you can predict exactly what will happen next, you just sit back and live this amazing movie experience and thank God such great pictures are still made. A couple of hours of my life very well spent.
About the contradictory nature of the American Dream (by howard.schumann)
The 1920's were the culmination of the greatest wave of immigration in American history in which more than 25 million people arrived, mostly from Southern and Eastern Europe, to escape the aftermath of the Great War and its resulting poverty and oppression, or simply to embrace the promise of the "American Dream." Many of these immigrants traveled in steerage and third class and were subject to crowded and unsanitary conditions aboard ship and an intrusive medical and legal interrogation when they arrived by ferry or barge at Ellis Island. By 1920, 42% of New Yorkers were <more>
foreign-born, most clustering in ethnic communities such as the Lower East Side.What they faced were crowded tenements, disease, low-paying jobs, and a language they could not speak, obstacles that made them targets for con men and gangsters. As a result, it is estimated that between 50 and 80 percent of new immigrants arriving after the war eventually returned to their countries of origin. This struggle for survival is painfully depicted in James Gray's masterful The Immigrant, the story of a devoutly Catholic Polish immigrant Ewa Cybulska Marion Cotillard and her fall from grace, dictated by her desire to reunite with her sister, Magda Angela Sarafyan , who is detained at Ellis Island, suspected of having tuberculosis. Declared a woman of "low morals" by the ship's captain and marked for deportation, Eva is rescued by Bruno Weiss Joaquin Phoenix , the master of ceremonies at The Bandit's Roost, a vaudeville theater that employs mostly young foreign girls who escaped from the War, in reality, a front for prostitution. Bruno pays off the corrupt officials at Ellis Island and gives Ewa a place to stay but recruits her into working for him with the promise that the money she earns will go to help pay for her sister's medical expenses. He is charming and seems to care for Ewa, who is grateful to her benefactor but refuses his advances and tells him with sufficient reason that she does not trust him. After she agrees to help a teenager become more "manly", Ewa flees to Brooklyn to seek the support of her aunt and uncle but is rejected by her fearful uncle who heard reports of her alleged immoral behavior aboard ship and is taken back to Ellis Island. There she listens to a concert by the famous tenor Enrico Caruso Joseph Calleja and watches as a magician, Orlando Jeremy Renner , performs a levitation act. When Orlando falls for Ewa, Bruno is threatened but saves her once again from deportation and she agrees to work as a prostitute if she can earn more money. Though we listen to Ewa's self-deprecation in the oppressive darkness of a confessional, little is shown of her actual "work" and, as a result, it is not easy to relate to her feelings of degradation.After a confrontation with the club's owner ends badly, the slick Bruno takes to the streets where he parades his girls in Central Park, exhibiting them to wealthy onlookers, while pretending that they are daughters of millionaires, but a confrontation with Orlando leads to unforeseen consequences. While both Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard deliver memorable performances, it is Gray's skill in characterization that makes the film a rich and emotionally honest experience.Bound together by mutual need, the principal characters are not stereotypes, but three-dimensional human beings who exhibit a range of feelings including a rare capacity for forgiveness. While The Immigrant can be described as a period piece which evokes a specific time and place in American history, like its complex characters, it is more a commentary about the contradictory nature that lies at the core of the American Dream, an elusive mixture of idealistic beauty and harsh reality. Ewa, resilient but no longer naïve, is compelled to dream another dream and try to piece together a life out of the ruins of the old one.
I figured that most folks would be transforming this weekend and I didn't want to get caught up in the hype, so I decided to take the road less traveled and went and saw The Immigrant. I've seen lots of movies on how my father's ancestors African-American got to America, but I really didn't know all that much about my European heritage and what they might have had to go through. So I figured what the heck; I'll go check it out. The film takes place in the early 1920's, right around the time of prohibition. I just want to stop here and say that you know those old <more>
pictures that you've seen of your great grandparents for folks my age and how rustic they look; well almost the whole film was filmed this way; although every now and then there were subtle splashes of color. Anyway, Ewa Cybulska Marion Cotillard arrives at Ellis Island with her sister Magda Angela Sarafyan and it is very noticeable that Magda is very sick. The thing is that if you were sick when arriving at Ellis Island, you were quarantined until they figured out what was wrong with you and you got better. Meanwhile, Bruno Weiss Joaquin Phoenix has been lurching around the admittance section like a vulture. All of a sudden it has been discovered that there are some scathing rumors that Ewa had done some unquestionable things during her journey across the great pond and she is going to be deported back to Poland. But wait a minute, in swoops the vulture that has been skulking around just in time to save the day. What a coincidence. Anyway, the story takes off from there and I must say that it was not as predictable as I thought it was going to be. I can understand why this film was nominated and won at various film festivals. The story centered on so many human issues including family loyalty, survival, trust, forgiveness, shame, rivalry, sacrifice, I could go on, but it would take all day. I have to say that I did enjoy the film and it was nice to get away from all the larger than life mega-hero movies, but to be honest, I probably will be transforming sometime this weekend. As a side note, my mother's ancestors arrived in America around the same time and I understand that I had a great, great, great uncle that helped carve Mt. Rushmore. Who knew?!?
very beautiful movie with awesome performances! (by colettaberx)
What a beautiful story it was, a sad story of that girl Ewa, full of hope arriving in a strange country with the believe that she and her sister will be welcomed by their family! And the desperation and fear when bit by bit her hope and faith gets challenged by the bitterness of "the American dream", the bitterness of being immigrants without money or relatives, connections... Marion is amazing, she acts with her eyes, her face tells it all, she actually doesn't need words... She makes Ewa a very fragile looking "girl" but with an amazing survival-instinct .. Joacquin <more>
was charming, frightening, sad, and at the end pitiful..a very dark character, despicable and yet tragic... When Jeremy comes into the story, his character adds a lot of tension with great interaction with Joacquin and Marion; repressed emotions, boyish charm , impulsiveness combined with darkness. He was really really excellent, I loved his performance.. Gray did an awesome job by building up the story the way he did, with very beautiful images, images in those amazing soft yellow ocher colors , that show us a world of those who are "damned " with very rare beacons of light... The end scene, that ending shot , was so amazing, so beautiful ! And I loved the soundtrack.
Should have gotten Oscar contention..and Jeremy Renner just kills it! (by smiley_b81)
"The Immigrant", James Gray's newest film, while retaining some of the gritty dark-crime dramatics of his previous work, feels like a radical departure. Mainly because its an Ellis Island-era period movie set 100 years ago, and because its observed through the eyes of a female protagonist and her struggle against permanent blight and the inherent depression of the situational times.Fleeing the brutalities of Trotsky's Red Army, Polish Ewa Marion Cotillard and her sickly sister arrive in New York cira 1920. When her sister is quarantined and both are threatened with <more>
deportation, Ewa is taken notice and saved by the faux-sensitive brothell pimp Bruno Joaquin Phoenix and blackmailed into prostitution. Just when Ewa may succumb to the sort of drab, bleak life that she was trying to allude, Bruno's cousin Orlando the Magician Jeremy Renner shows up and both men via their own quirky methods try to light a fire in the heart of the pretty foreigner.In her best part since "Rust and Bone", Cotillard is Oscar worthy in a showy albeit poetic performance made all the more impressive that she speaks Polish throughout most of it . Phoenix is superb as usual, as the repressed and impotent man who wants to think he's in charge. But Renner steals the show. Right when you think the movie is going to slide under the weight of the misery of its subject, his Orlando appears like a glowing gaslight of fun amongst the dim rooms and crowded corridors. Like his work in "American Hustle", its criminal that his spritely performance here will go unrewarded and under the radar.Although the universal tale of Gray's film isn't exactly something we haven't seen before from Kazan's bold "America, America" to Ron Howard's putrid "Far and Away" "The Immigrant" presents a rare and thoughtful experience, one in which we can learn something about the lives of long ago as well as our own.
When I read the summary for this film, I just expected a sweeping, soaring melodrama. Oh, it's a melodrama, no doubt about it, but surprisingly, it's a pretty restrained effort. I appreciate the fact that it really wasn't overblown in its intentions, in its music, in its acting. The three main actors are all pretty good, Cotillard especially. By now, we know the talent this woman possesses and she's someone that can say so much with just a single facial expression. This is one of her very best performances, and it should, in no way, be discounted. I hope she finally gets that <more>
long-due second Oscar nomination. All in all, recommended.