Movie review – The Immigrant: A woman alone in world

2014-10-26 15:00

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Director: James Gray

Featuring: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner

Ewa Cybulska (Marion Cotillard) quickly learns the lesson of vulnerable women the world over – there are no knights in shining armour, just some guy looking for a way to exploit your vulnerability for economic or sexual gain. In the case of Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), it is both.

Ellis Island in New York processed 12?million immigrants from the time the immigrant inspection station opened in 1900 to when it closed in 1954.

In The Immigrant, Ewa is one of those processed in 1921. It is not a story of triumphant immigrants making good and grabbing the American dream. It is about survival and how terrible it can be for a woman alone in the world.

Unsurprisingly, Bruno “helps” by leading Ewa to prostitution, but the usual trajectory of tragedy is tempered by a love triangle and an attempt to humanise Bruno by having him fall in love with Ewa.

Phoenix exudes a creepy kind of charm as the unbalanced pimp who revels in the role of protector of his prostitutes. Cotillard gives her character great strength and grace as she battles to keep her dignity.

Director and cowriter James Gray and Phoenix are old on-screen friends and have worked on We Own the Night, Two Lovers and The Yards together – if you liked these three films, chances are you’ll like this one too.

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