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Cannes 2013: The Immigrant Initial Reaction
Cannes 2013: The Immigrant Initial Reaction
James Gray's latest gets a deportation order

24 May 2013  |  Written by Damon Wise  

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the immigrant james gray

James Gray has been a fixture in Cannes since The Yards in 2000, much to the bemusement of UK press who fail to see why he is so consistently invited. His latest, The Immigrant, is by far the least of all the films he's submitted, being a very plain melodrama that could have come from the Hallmark Channel if it weren't for its triumvirate of Oscar-nominated leads. Though it's safe to say the Golden Globes will find places at the dinner table for Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard, Gray's latest is a middlebrow period piece that crawls along at a snail's pace and won't find too much favour at the box office.

It begins in the early ’20s, with the Polish Sonya (Cotillard) and her consumptive sister lining up on Ellis Island, hoping to be granted American citizenship. The sister is taken to hospital for examination and Sonya is refused entry, on the grounds that she may be a “loose woman”, but a kindly stranger, Bruno (Phoenix), takes her in and gives her a bed. Bruno, it turns out, runs an illegal strip club in Manhattan that doubles as a brothel, and Sonya is appalled. Nevertheless, she needs money to pay for her sister's hospital treatment and reluctantly does what Bruno asks of her.
 
To say how Renner's dancing magician Orlando enters the frame would spoil what little there is that's surprising about the film, but The Immigrant soon becomes an unlikely love triangle: unlikely, since the characters are so very unloveable. There is no chemistry whatsoever – because the writing doesn't call for any – and although Phoenix starts out promisingly as a charming but devious pimp, the spark never becomes a flame. What's left is the excellent cinematography and production design, which leaves one thinking not of simmering passions but all the mottled, muddy-brown wallpaper.

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Your Comments

RE: Typo or just plainly inaccurate?
Relevant username is relevant More

Posted by UTB at 04:14 on 28 May 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Typo or just plainly inaccurate?
Swell? More

Posted by DancingClown at 23:12 on 27 May 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Typo or just plainly inaccurate?
Right, that's swell that you've seen it. But how can we trust your opinion - when you even get basic facts wrong? More

Posted by themoviejerk at 21:32 on 27 May 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Typo or just plainly inaccurate?
I can assure you I did see The Immigrant. Seeing up to five films a day and posting to short deadlines, details sometimes blur. More

Posted by Damon_Wise at 15:40 on 25 May 2013 | Report This Post

Typo or just plainly inaccurate?
I happened to see The Immigrant in Cannes - and I can't help but notice a certain mistake in this article. Cotillard's character isn't called Sonya but Ewa Cybulski, and she's not Ukranian but Polish. It makes me begin to wonder whether this critic has actually seen the film. More

Posted by themoviejerk at 10:22 on 25 May 2013 | Report This Post

How does this guy get to keep making movies?
And with big stars, too. I don't know what Joaquin Phoenix sees in him. Strangely I've seen both The Yards and We Own The Night, and both have been the most boring, lifeless pieces of work I've laid eyes on. More

Posted by Madhava at 13:33 on 24 May 2013 | Report This Post

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