Review: ‘The Immigrant’ 6.4.14

A nice period piece by James Grey (‘Little Odessa’, ‘The Yards’, ‘We Own The Night’, ‘Two Lovers’) that depicts a young Polish woman who arrives on Ellis Island in NYC in the early 1920’s. Upon arriving to customs, she is labeled as having “low morale”, and it is decided she should be deported back. Only to be saved by an entrepreneur (played by the always superb Joaquin Phoenix, who Grey has included in 4 out of his 5 films, in yet what might be “another” award nominated performance). I won’t go into much greater detail on the plot, as I will allow you to see it for yourself, but what I will say is it is about as about as accurate of a portrayal from what I know about American history, into the plight of immigrants who made their way into this country, in hopes of finding a “better” life, only to face adversity under a classist and Capitalist society. Marion Cotillard is mesmerizing as always, as is Jeremy Renner in a great supporting turn (and maybe his best role since ‘The Hurt Locker’). Including lush cinematography and lavish costume design. This is one for fans of slowly unfolding, period piece, social dramas. Even if at times it felt like it unfloded a little too slow. But even despite that, I would encourage you to see it if merely for the fact that it was a showcase for the above 3 fine actors.

Grade: B

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2 thoughts on “Review: ‘The Immigrant’ 6.4.14

  1. “The Immigrant” B. Same grade hear as well. Not a bad film but nothing spectacular about it. Great direction by James Gray and costume set/design made you feel right like you were in Prohibition era New York City. Also particularly liked the lighting in the film. Shot in relative darkness with the occassional illumination created that period time piece feel as you mentioned. Once agaon solid performances from two of the vest actors/actresses around in Joaquin Phoenix and Mario Cottiliard. Story left a little something more to be desired is what I didnt grade it higher. However, that doesnt take away from a fine film.

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    1. I’m glad you finally decided to see this one. As I think I had been talking about it for quite some time since I saw it in theaters where it came and went quicker than almost any movie I saw last year. Which was kind of a surprise given the star power that it had (all 3 of its central characters – Phoenix, Renner, and Cotillard are all either Oscar nominees, or in the case of the latter, an Oscar winner).

      I’m going to agree with you that the film’s strongest component was writer/director James Grey’s very detailed and lavish production, set, and costume design. I thought he captured the look of early 20th century New York City perfectly. Second to that would be the acting, with both Phoenix and Cotillard (could be my favorite actor and actress right there alone) bringing their “A” game as like you said they do with pretty much any and every project they involve themselves in. I also thought Renner was really good here, in what was probably his best performance to date behind “The Hurt Locker” & “The Town”.

      Solid B. Like we both agreed on. And a good film that was overlooked and under-appreciated. It just didn’t take the material to that extra step to make it a truly memorable one. But a nicely well done addition to Grey’s filmography.

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