The Immigrant Blu-ray Review

THE IMMIGRANT is an interesting film of a time long past. It illustrates beautifully the power of survival and what people will do. The three main actors do a great job in each of their character portrayals.

The film is set in New York in 1921. Ewa (Marion Cotillard) is a Polish immigrant at Ellis Island trying to get into the country to start a new life. She is joined by her sister Magda (Angela Sarafyan). Madga though is very sick and she’s pulled out of the line and sent to the island hospital. Back then they could refuse admittance for people being sick, not having enough money, a criminal background or having a bad character. Ewa is stopped for the latter reason. An incident happened on the ship and Ewa’s morals are on trial. She is scheduled to be deported the next day. It didn’t help that her aunt and uncle did not show up to meet her and she was informed the address did not exist.

Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner in The Immigrant

Ewa though has a possible knight in shining armor in Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix). Bruno talks to the officials and gets her released in his custody. Bruno is an opportunist. He knows his way around Ellis Island and knows the procedures. Bruno takes her back to his place and gives her options. Bruno says she can do a job sewing at a theater that he plies his trade.

Director James Gray has a good feel for this time period. The roads still aren’t well equipped for automobiles. You have the wet clothes hanging on the clotheslines. Everything seemed more formal back then in dress. The casual look was not yet in style.  Talking movie pictures hadn’t yet arrived, but they were on the horizon. Stage shows were still the rage. Bruno’s part of the show was his little comedy act, while bringing out various women. It was basically a front for prostitution. The men in the audience will pick out who they wanted. Ewa’s sister was being held at Ellis Island. It was going to take big bucks to get her out. That is what faced Ewa as Bruno nudges her to sell her body for money.

Ewa breaks away one night and finds her uncle’s house. Her uncle had heard the rumors and did not want any problems. So off to Ellis Island she goes again. There she sees Emil (Jeremy Renner) in action as the magician Orlando. He immediately falls for her beauty, but does not do anything about it at first. He also happens to be Bruno’s cousin.

Marion Cotillard in The Immigrant

Bruno takes Ewa back with him and she delves into the world of debauchery. Gray and co-screenwriter Ric Menello presents these characters realistically. Bruno isn’t just a mustache twirling villain. He toils in various shades of grey. Ewa isn’t the innocent that is just off the boat. There is an edge about her and she will do whatever it takes to get by. Emil isn’t just the nice guy at first glance willing to whisk Ewa away with him. There’s some darkness involved with him as well. These three characters come together at the theater when Emil takes a job there. That is bad news for all involved.

The film does well in portraying what we do for family. It also shows the dark side of family. This is what being in a family is like. It isn’t always peaches and cream. There are dark spots, arguments and resentments. Some resentments are carried on for years as shown here.

THE IMMIGRANT is a good period piece about family, obsession and the strange things we do for love.


Video: New York in the 1920s looks swell on the screen.

Audio: The sound is a bit spotty. I had trouble throughout hearing the dialogue.

The Visual Inspiration of The Immigrant (2:54): Various photos and paintings are shown as inspiring the film.

Feature Commentary with Director James Gray: Great commentary by the director. He is full of facts and tidbits about the movie.


Theatrical Trailer


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