Monday, May 19, 2014
James Gray's "The Immigrant" is just as generic and uninspired as its title, and looks like it was shot through pickle juice.
Marion Cotillard is one of our finest working actresses and has given us moments that will live forever in our movie memories, but Gray's script (with Ric Menello) offers her nothing to work with, her Ewa Cybulski not a self-defined character but solely a set of circumstances. Ewa arrives at Ellis Island with sister Magda (Angela Sarafyan), who tries to hide her TB but is quarantined and designated for deportation. Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix), a T & A showman with connections, happens by, goes gaga for Ewa, whisks her out of line, and brings her to his apartment in the city, putting her to work as a seamstress for his girls. Sometime later, Bruno's cousin, Orlando the Magician (Jeremy Renner), appears on the scene. He too falls for Ewa (!), who just wants to save her zloties and spring sis. Complications ensue, none of which play like events in the lives of flesh-and-blood people. I like the touch of defiance Cotillard brings to Ewa, but she remains a cipher. It's hard to imagine Gray gave Phoenix any more direction than to weird it up, which he does, without effect. Renner doesn't register.