The Immigrant (2013) Poster

(2013)

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10/10
An absolute masterclass in filmmaking & acting from all involved.
peacecreep18 April 2014
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 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.
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10/10
Cotillard, Phoenix and Renner in the land of opportunity.
Ser_Stephen_Seaworth25 March 2014
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 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.
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8/10
very beautiful movie with awesome performances!
colettaberx3 December 2013
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 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.
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6/10
Worth a view for Cotillard alone
TheMarwood16 June 2014
James Gray's beautifully shot 1920s New York period drama about the American dream gone to seed for a Polish woman, never stumbles into soap opera melodrama and the film is actually restrained considering the heaps of drama thrown at this woman. Marion Cotillard gives a wonderful performance as the immigrant who finds herself exploited in prostitution and the script wisely never makes her blind to the fact that things will be quickly heading south for her - she's a strong, smart woman who's hostage to a miserable situation. Jeremy Renner makes the most of his small but pivotal role and is the only character who seems to be having a good enough time and he injects some munch needed energy into this story. It's Phoenix, whose shyster character is the most complicated, that never comes across convincing. And while Phoenix is never for a moment boring to watch and for the most part doesn't over act, his acting decisions seem too thought out and theatrical. While Cotillard, Renner and the rest of the cast give performances that feel natural and embody these characters, it always feels like Phoenix is acting. Though locations are minimal and the few exterior shots are usually in a tunnel, the period detail is convincing and it's a nice too see a period film actually shot on film instead of digital. The Immigrant is a good showcase for Cotillard's talents and despite its flaws, definitely worth a watch.
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9/10
Absolute masterpiece, best movie I've watched in a long time
ahmegy-914-44550927 March 2014
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, 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.
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6/10
The Immigrant isn't bad, but I didn't like it very much
Argemaluco20 January 2015
The Immigrant tells us a devastating story, which simultaneously denounces the fallacy of "American dream" and confirms the indomitable spirit of the immigrants who forged the cultural and economical basis of that country. The performances are excellent, the characters are complex, and the cinematography captures the reality of the historical period with a raw beauty. However, I didn't like this film very much, mainly because it didn't make me feel anything, despite all the drama and personal tragedy it displays. The unfortunate experiences the main character lives are mortifying, and unfortunately, they might have been very common in the time in which this movie is set (also nowadays, thinking it well); but for some reason, The Immigrant isn't made with enough passion for us to plunge into the main character's experiences, and it doesn't have a concrete point besides of being a sample book of human suffering which should have been touching, but it isn't. Having said that, I think my opinion about The Immigrant is in the minority, considering all the acclamation this film has received around the world. However, this doesn't mean I couldn't find positive elements in this film, such as the brilliant performances. Marion Cotillard perfectly transmits vulnerability and resistance at the same time. The great Joaquin Phoenix brings a predictably amazing work as the opportunist Bruno, and Jeremy Renner brings a warm and sensitive attitude which totally adjusts to his character. I think that those three performances are enough reason to make The Immigrant worthy of a slight recommendation, with the hope that other spectators will appreciate the emotions and narrative honesty I wasn't able to find.
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7/10
'The Immigrant' is definitely worth watching
joshua kit28 March 2014
I just finished this movie and wanted to leave a review, while the credits are still rolling.

I'm one of the harsher critics on IMDb, but I enjoyed The Immigrant. This is a dark film about Prohibition-era New York, and the trials of Eastern European immigrants who have come here in the hopes of a better life.

Like most good films, good and evil are blurred. We aren't asked to judge the characters, but rather to observe them as they are.

The plot is solid and the performances are impressive, particularly Marion Cotillard and Juaquin Phoenix.
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8/10
A Sympathetic Portrait Guided by a Strong Cast and Period Details
Pycs19 July 2014
The opening shot of James Gray's "The Immigrant" is, rather befittingly, the Statue of Liberty, circa 1921. For Lady Liberty, herself of foreign origins, exemplifies the ideals and ambitions millions upon millions of immigrants have sacrificed and labored for in the hopes of one day achieving. The camera then pulls back slowly and the statue disappears into the background, for this is no grand tale of success or prosperity, but of the hardships and struggles associated with the vast majority of immigration experiences.

The title character refers to Ewa Cybulska (Marion Cotillard), a Polish immigrant freshly off the boat at Ellis Island alongside her sister , Magda (Angela Sarafyan). The sisters are hastily separated when Magda is unable to conceal her illness (later discovered to be tuberculosis), and is promptly quarantined. Faced with deportation, Ewa is recruited by Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), a shady theater promoter, who is able to furnish her with a bed and employment.

Ewa finds her situation anything but ideal, and it is not long before her body becomes her greatest commodity. Feeling exploited by Bruno, she manages to locate her aunt and uncle, earlier immigrants living in the city for some time now. This effort proves futile, and she is once again resigned to operate under Bruno.

Further complications ensue when Emil (Jeremy Renner), a magician and Bruno's cousin, enters the picture and is instantly enraptured by Ewa. Partly seeing it as an infringement of his turf and partly out of envy, Bruno reacts hostilely towards Emil's advances towards Ewa. Ewa, whose justification for her prostitution is a hopeful reunion with her sister, is torn between the two men. Not necessarily out of love, for something so trivial surely has no use in the world of struggles Ewa finds herself in, but she is divided as to whom can properly benefit her, as she has reason to doubt both men's claims.

Showcasing a handsome reproduction of early 1920's New York, Gray's film is a very sympathetic portrait of the burden of immigrant life. As depicted in the film, the processing system dehumanized the migrants, frighteningly close to the same degree as the slave processing in "Goodbye Uncle Tom." If one was lucky enough to make it through customs and into the country, "The Immigrant" pulls no punches in representing the strife of the urban environment at a time where work came cheap and arduous, as was human life.

As one would come to expect by now, Marion Cotillard, who has been nothing less than terrific in various foreign and domestic films in the last couple years, is well cast as Ewa. Able to channel the character's sympathy without falling victim to excessive sentiment, Cotillard's Ewa is a woman who has convinced herself to make the necessary sacrifices, yet cannot help but to bear the guilt. Though Cotillard's Ewa may doubt her methods, her zeal is never up for question. She is absolutely determined to see her sister again from whatever cash she can scrap together, and the end will surely justify the means.

Also notable is Phoenix, who continues his recent career renaissance following 2012's "The Master" and 2013's "Her." Bruno, as played by Phoenix, is undoubtedly taking advantage of Ewa and her situation, yet there is a sense of gentleness and care that Phoenix is able to bring to the character. Under Bruno's wing, Ewa may be compromised, but she is cared for and secure. Bruno never physically abuses her or coerces her into something she isn't prepared for, as her path into prostitution was clearly forged given the situation, whether she came across Bruno or not. Thus Bruno's recruitment was both a blessing and a curse for Ewa. Great credit should go to screenwriters Gray and Ric Menello and actor Phoenix for carving a well-structured and nuanced character out of what could have easily fallen into the ranks of cliché.

As her character states early on, Ewa's only ambition in coming to America is "to be happy," yet she finds her conditions to be anything but. Thus "The Immigrant" is a testament to the trials and tribulations that countless individuals and families have endeavored (and those who continue to do so) at the aspiration of forging a better lives for themselves.
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6/10
Talented cast largely wasted in melodrama that spins its wheels
george.schmidt15 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
THE IMMIGRANT (2014) ** Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, Dagmara Dominczyk. Disappointing and one-note period piece set in 1920s NYC where recent Polish émigré Cottilard (emoting up a storm) attempts to keep her rocky citizenship entry to America when her tubercular stricken sister is forced to remain on Ellis Island leaving her to no other alternative than entrusting her fate with shady Phoenix (overacting) as a bureaucrat cum pimp (make your own jokes here) who falls hard for her. Things get worse when his magician cousin (Renner, miscast) enters the picture forming an unlikely lover's triangle in a pot boiling melodrama that goes nowhere fast. Filmmaker James Gray (who co-wrote with Ric Menello) spins his wheels while the immaculate production design by Happy Massee and Darius Khondji's cinematography make up for plodding plotting. Would've been more interesting if the male leads switched roles but too little too late.
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8/10
Should have gotten Oscar contention..and Jeremy Renner just kills it!
smiley_b8123 March 2014
"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 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.
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