The Immigrant (2014) – James Gray

22 01 2015

The Immigrant

First unveiled at the 2013 Cannes film festival, James Gray’s The Immigrant was originally primed for a strong awards run that same year, but was then suddenly put into release date limbo before quietly being released in just a few theaters earlier this year.  The studio has also gone back and forth on whether to market or campaign the film for awards honors. I bring this up because it seemed that the studio couldn’t decide whether or not they liked their own movie, and the film is such a mixed bag that I feel much the same way after a first viewing.  The film starts as a fascinating look into 1920’s immigrant life centering on a Polish immigrant who gets quarantined at Ellis Island, before a mysterious man bribes an officer to set her free.  But what was a brilliant period piece with an intriguing character study is derailed midway through, when the plot turns into a melodramatic love triangle. There are many beautiful moments, including the film’s final shot (might even be the best of the year), and the film is anchored by two amazing performances by Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix, but sadly the third act is completely at odds with the rest of the film in content and tone, making the overall package an odd one.

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