Young Polish immigrant Ewa (Marion Cotillard, in a thrilling performance), after being separated from her sister at Ellis Island, finds herself caught in a dangerous battle of wills with a shady burlesque manager (Joaquin Phoenix) in James Gray’s richly detailed period film. Working with the great cinematographer Darius Khondji (Se7en, Amour), Gray imagines 1920s Manhattan as a dusty, sepia-toned dreamworld, sometimes faintly luminous but often dejectedly burnt-out. The same could be said of the film’s heroes: after a charismatic magician (Jeremy Renner) starts to compete for Ewa’s affections, The Immigrant builds steadily to its devastating climax. A lovingly wrought portrait of Prohibition-era New York, the film is also a morally ambiguous, open-ended reflection on family loyalty, urban disillusionment, and the unpredictable twists and turns of human motivation. The Immigrant, based on the stories and experiences told to the director by his grandparents, is perhaps one of the last of its kind—a personal epic.
Cannes Film Festival, 2013
New York Film Festival, 2013
“The Immigrant hums with pure, deep and complicated emotion.” —A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“I won't soon forget the storm of emotion that overcame me upon the film's final fade-out: The shock of the old made new, a miracle achieved, a great movie rising before me—like a delusion, like a dream.” —Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
“Anyone who cares about movies, and about what movies can be, should try to see it on the big screen.” —Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice
“The ambient fury of James Gray’s teeming historical drama is built into the very fabric of his tensely unbalanced wide-screen images.” —Richard Brody, The New Yorker