The Immigrant stars Marion Cotillard as a Polish immigrant, Ewa, who arrives in the U.S. with her younger sister in search of a better life having fled from their war-ravaged home. However upon arrival at Ellis Island Ewa is immediately separated from her sister, who is quarantined in the island’s hospital after being diagnosed with tuberculosis. Facing deportation, she is picked up by a pimp called Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) who bribes an officer to let her into the country, where he then coerces her into dancing at his club as well as prostituting herself in order to earn enough money to have her sister treated and released.
I liked The Immigrant a lot. Its strengths lie in its trio of complex characters (Ewa, Bruno, and the Emil [Jeremy Renner]) and their relationships which lie at the centre of the story. . Cotillard’s performance shines through here as the vulnerable young woman who will do anything to be reunited with her sister. Despite being a great fan of Phoenix, I wasn’t sure what I thought of his performance initially. However by the end of the film he had won me over, his character turning out to be the most interesting of the three. Renner is great as Bruno’s cousin Emil and Orlando the magician. However we only really see Orlando perform once during the film, which is a shame as it was visually one of the more interesting scenes.
Indeed I thought the film suffered a little from a lack of visual pizzazz and style, the camerawork being a little too conventional for the majority of the run time. The film’s final shot is fantastic, and I would have liked to see more of this creative use of the camera earlier on.
Finally, I felt that some scenes could have been more potent if only for a better use of music. Some scenes which on their own are quite powerful, could have packed more of a punch if music had been used to build up tension during the scene.
Despite these issues, The Immigrant is a good film with great, intriguing characters and top performances all round.