Ewa (played by Marion Cotillard) arrives in America with her sister hoping for a better life. The opening scene of the film zooms in on the Statue of Liberty – she who beseeches give me your poor tired masses – in different scenes Ewa incarnates the Statue of Liberty. Ewa is tired and weary and by the end of the film so are we. James Gray gives us a 1921 inhospitable America where an innocent woman can fall into the clutches of a merciless conman and how when all is lost, hope still rests.
There are love rivals vying for the same women. However is this enough to save the film? Not really as it’s hard to connect with the two dimensional Ewa, although there are glimmers of strength but these don’t really ever come to the surface. The conman, Bruno, played by the consistently excellent Joaquin Phoenix and the charismatic magician, Orlando, played by a heavily made up Jeremy Renner aren’t given enough space to shine and there’s not enough pace or characters to lift what could have been an interesting film from the sentimental melodrama we are left with.
Do not even think of comparing it to any James Gray’s previous films such as Two Lovers, or The Yards. This is not a film on the same level of that, sure James Gray plays heavily on the nuances which works in a film such as Two Lovers but not here as The Immigrant needs more action. If you like period dramas and are keen on the likes of Broadwalk Empire, then keep your expectations low and you should be able to enjoy the 1hr 57 mins.
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