The Immigrant

Directed By: James Gray

Starring: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner

Because I get the pleasure of reviewing both mainstream and independent flicks, some movies are just ill-timed.  Take The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for instance.  Though a fun, wonderful film, it wasn't exactly the movie to see the same day as The AvengersLincoln wasn't exactly the most riveting film to follow up Skyfall either.  On the weekend of X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Immigrant is in a very similar situation.  After watching mutants battle for their survival across time and space, an immigrant's journey in America doesn't exactly wet my appetite as a moviegoer.

Polish sisters Ewa (Marion Cotillard) Magda Cybulski make the long journey to Ellis Island only to find disappointment.  Due to a lung disease which is later diagnosed as tuberculosis, Magda has been quarantined on the island.  Without a male or any other companion by her side for that matter, Ewa is not granted entry into the US and is scheduled for deportation back to Poland the following day.  When a gentleman by the name of Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix) happens to encounter Ewa at Ellis Island, she begs him to do whatever he can to get her into the city.  Instantly noticing Ewa's beauty and seeing an opportunity to make some money, Bruno gets her into the country illegally.

In her new life with Bruno, Ewa is focused on one thing and one thing alone, getting her sister off Ellis Island and into the city.  To do that, she's going to need money, lots of it.  With Bruno's help, she begins working as a prostitute at the Bandits' Roost Theater.  Though not particularly willing to give her body over to the lustful men of the city, she eventually indulges their wishes so that she can indulge her own, Magda.  As time passes, Bruno surprisingly falls for the very woman he sells to the highest bidder on a nightly basis and becomes very possessive and controlling.  Their complicated relationship is complicated further, however, when Bruno's cousin Orlando the Magician arrives (Jeremy Renner).

The Immigrant hinges on this symbiotic relationship between Marion Cotillard's Ewa and Joaquin Phoenix's Bruno.  Ewa depends on Bruno for physical support in the form of food, shelter, and finances.  Bruno depends on Ewa for emotional support to satiate his not-so-secret yet abusive love for her.  In a well-balanced performance, Cotillard conveys Ewa's delicacy and fragility as she tries to survive on the cold harsh streets of New York.  At the same time, she conveys her character's strength and conviction to get her sister off Ellis Island.  For his part as Bruno, Phoenix gives us one untrustworthy, unsavory character.  Other than his latent but obvious emotional needs, Phoenix's character is a real jerk on screen.  Their symbiotic relationship is abruptly interrupted by Jeremy Renner's Orlando the Magician in a rather coy performance from the actor.

Beyond decent performances from Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix, The Immigrant offers some decent visuals and solid set design for a period piece, but not much else.  James Gray's latest flick just doesn't connect with me.  It's an untimely period piece in the midst of the summer blockbuster season that says nothing meaningful.  Sure there's a little intrigue, but Gray does nothing with the past to make a statement about the present or the future.  The Immigrant gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of Pinot Grigiot with this one.