The Immigrant Review: Nothing Foreign Here

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The Immigrant is a movie that is manufactured to be good. It works until you realize all the moving parts that are trying so very hard to make a good movie. The film’s message doesn’t matter. It’s mostly a theme of survival. Who can’t relate to that?

The films is an old fashioned period drama about Ewa (Marion Cotillard), a Polish woman traveling to New York City with her sister in 1921. Upon arriving at Ellis Island, her sister isn’t allowed to leave due to illness, while Ewa is held back for supposedly causing disruptions on the boat. A man named Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) offers her a job that essentially boils down to prostitution. Meanwhile, Bruno’s cousin Emil (Jeremy Renner) tries to woo Ewa.

With all this going on acted out by three great actors, there was little room for anything inventive. It’s a period drama that looks its period, is well-acted, and was shot through a soft yellow filter to make it more artsy.

Director James Gray follows all the rules for how to make a good movie and doesn’t dare break any of them. There isn’t even a hint of feminism from Ewa to juice things up. The Immigrant is safe, but the numbers, and boring. I’ll take something overly ambitious that doesn’t fully succeed, like Godzilla,  over this.

There really isn’t much to else to say. Cotillard is great. The story hits most of its dramatic beats. It’s just that no imagination went into this movie. It’s a fine way to pass two hours, just don’t expect anything to rock your world. Or to remember any of it after about 20 minutes. Shrug. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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