Director and Writer James Gray joins writing partner Ric Menello and Actor Joaquin Phoenix again for his next film – THE IMMIGRANT

Leaving Poland in 1921 in search of a better life in the United States, Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and her sister Magda (Angela Sarafyan) arrive at Ellis Island, hoping to join their aunt and new uncle, and live the life of an American.  Magda is feeling not well after their long sea journey, and is taken to the infirmary, as she is diagnosed with Tuberculosis and must be quarantined.  

The Immigration official (Robert Clohessy) informs Eva that she is being deported back to Poland, as he was advised from the ship she arrived on that she was prostituting herself. As Ewa knows this is a lie, she fights to stay in this country, and tries to come up with a way to no be deported. 

Enter Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix) who is in thick with the immigrant officials, works out a way for Ewa to stay here in America.  He offers her a place to stay in his building and a job as a seamstress, as Ewa will have to pay to get her sister out of quarantine, once she is better. 

Not wanting to stay in the dreary apartment that Bruno has provided, or be forced to live the life that most of his girls see too, Ewa goes to find her aunt and uncle, in hopes that they can help her get the money she needs to free her sister.  Betrayed by her uncle, Ewa is thrown back into the streets of New York City, and back into the world that Bruno wants to entrap Ewa in – prostitution.

As Bruno façade as an entertainer gives way to his real profession, pimping his girls, Ewa gives in, but expects half of what Bruno is paid, so that she can get her sister when the time is right. 

Bruno seems to care for Ewa, but has fits of rage and bitterness towards her too!  Enter the suave and debonair cousin of Bruno’s, Orlando (Jeremy Renner), who is a magician by trade, and who manages to entrance Ewa along the way too.  Seeing Orlando as her only escape from the cruel and terrible life Bruno has her entrapped in, Ewa plans to leave with Orlando and never return……

Will Ewa be able to free herself from the terrible life that Bruno has thrust her into?  Are Orlando’s feelings for Ewa true and genuine, unlike the strange relationship that Bruno has with her?  Or will Bruno’s passion for Ewa destroy all that could be for her with Orlando, and eliminate any chance she may have to free her sister?

I give THE IMMIGRANT a B- :  The storyline and imagery of Gray’s new film are both dark and compelling, and as he cast his favorite actor Phoenix in the lead role, and if you know his style, you have a feeling that this isn’t going to be a happy ending going in.  Phoenix once again gives an academy award performance as the disturbed, volatile, yet child-like figure he plays as Bruno.   He is unquestionably very well suited to play this role.  Jeremy Renner also shines on screen as the Orlando, Bruno’s cousin, who is vying for the beautiful Ewa’s affections, much to Bruno’s dismay.  Know going in that between the premise of the film, and Gray’s previous work, this isn’t going to be a happy go lucky film, but if you enjoy intense drama infused with the past of our great nation – you will love this film.

Kathy Kaiser


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