Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Immigrant

Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix,
Jeremy Renner


There is no doubt that America is a land of immigrants. This film tried to envision the struggles the early immigrants went through after they set foot on Ellis Island, fresh from the boat, so to speak.  

It is the year 1921, two sisters from Poland, Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and Magda are in the queue to be processed. Magda is sickly (she is stricken with tuberculosis) and is immediately separated and put in quarantine. Faced with uncertainty in a foreign land, Ewa is 'taken in' by a glib talker named Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) who promises her shelter and a job. Sadly, the job turns out to be in the flesh trade but Ewa is a brave, feisty girl so she bears the humiliation as she desperately needs the money to buy medicines for her sick sister.

"The Immigrant" is a bleak narration of the ills of society and its innocent victims. It is set during the depression years yet we all know that human trafficking is still very rampant in this day and age.  A societal menace that preys on the depraved who are stripped of their dignity and are caught in the never ending cycle of human slavery. Tragic, to say the least.

The good cast composed of Cotillard, Phoenix and Renner do their best to add some depth to their characters. Cinematography is realistic as it depicts the grim reality of the mean streets of Manhattan back in the 1920s, as well as the seedy vaudeville shows prevalent during that period. Wardrobe is also authentic as displayed through the costume pieces worn by Cotillard.

Yet there is something lacking in the plot or the way the narration unfolded which made it pretty staid and static. It failed to appeal to my emotions and as the film progressed I kept expecting it to somehow change its perspective, yet sadly it did not. I felt it didn't offer anything new to the table, this type of sob story has been done over and over again and also with more passion and conviction.

One more thing, the fact that Magda was able to get out of quarantine despite being diagnosed with tuberculosis doesn't make sense. Back in those days, there was still no cure for this severe respiratory sickness.  It seemed that it just wanted to have its happy ending  ... never mind that it wasn't believable, at all.

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