Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Immigrant (2013)

Director: James Gray
Writers:  James Gray, Ric Menello
Cast:       Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner

In 1921, unfortunate circumstances drive newly arrived Polish immigrant Ewa (Cotillard) into a life of prostitution, and a complex, volatile relationship with two men, her conflicted pimp (Phoenix) and his romantic cousin (Jeremy Renner). She needs to make money to free up her sister from the infirmary where she is facing the threat of deportation due to ill health.

I was not too optimistic going into this film since I didn't like the other James Gray film that I have watched, 'We Own the Night'. But 'The Immigrant' has been getting quite good reviews with Cotillard winning accolades for her performances in this film and Dradennes' 'Two Days and One Night'. I have seen the latter and she was excellent in it. She is an actress with genuine talent and character and is not afraid to appear in films without makeup. It will be prudent not to judge her based on her appearances in the Nolan films. Coming back to 'The Immigrant', it is just an half decent film elevated to rather good category by the performances from Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. The exploitative relationship between them keeps the film interesting even though the story arc is not really very novel. It will remind you more of films from India and I guess America in the prohibition era is quite similar to where India is at the moment in terms of societal development and conventions. 

According to the director, it is based on the recollections from his grandparents who came to the states in 1923 and is the his most personal film to date. The color tone used in the film is similar to the one in Godfather 2 depicting the same time period where Vito Corleone arrives in US. There are some nods to that film and it opens with a shot featuring Cotillard looking at Statue of Liberty from the boat. If you wait till the end of the closing credits there is something which look like a message 'Keep your Head', which in fact is only the name of the production company. Overall it is a good watch purely because of the performances from its two very dependable leads. Jeremy Renner is as annoying as he often is.

Rating: 3/5