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Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Immigrant (2014)

In 1921 New York, a Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) and her sister (Angela Sarafyan) arrive on Ellis Island. When the sister is quarantined because of tuberculosis, the young woman is taken under the wing of a procurer (Joaquin Phoenix) and coerced into prostitution. Determined to survive and get her sister out of Ellis Island, she submits to the degradation waiting for the day she will be reunited with her sister. It's taken awhile for THE IMMIGRANT to open in the U.S. It screened at last year's (2013) Cannes film festival and the Weinsteins planned a late 2013 U.S. opening during the awards season when they abruptly pulled it from their schedule. Apparently they've lost interest in the film because it's quietly opened without the usual Weinstein hoopla. It's a pity because this is a very good film. Just on a technical level, the cinematography by Darius Khondji (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) and art direction evoke a rich and palpable atmosphere of New York in the early 1920s. Cotillard gives a heartbreaking performance and is matched every bit of the way by Phoenix who lets us see the human under the beast. Normally, if someone told me a film is about forgiveness, I'd run in the other direction. In this case, it's a beautiful darkly romantic (and I mean dark) piece of work, easily James Gray's best film to date. With Jeremy Renner.

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