Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Immigrant Review

I knew nothing going about The Immigrant going into it. Oh sure, I'd heard rave reviews (and interestingly, some vehemently negative ones) and knew the three of the characters in it were being portrayed by three of my favorite actors. But I hadn't watched so much as a trailer for the project before I sat down at the Angelika Plano to view it. In retrospect, that was for the best. Like the protagonist of this picture, Ewa (played magnificently by Marion Cotillard), I'm completely unprepared for what is about to occur, and man, is that the best mindset to have when witnessing this films tragic events.

There's nothing truly special about Ewa; she's pretty of course (it'd be impossible to make a woman like Cotillard anything short of stunning), but English isn't her first language and her only real plan when she reaches this country is to move in with her Aunt and Uncle with her sister. That'd actually be a fine plan under normal circumstances...but she and her sister are soon separated, and from that gut-wrenching moment onward, Cotillard emanates the apex of tragedy. She doesn't speak a noticeably large amount of dialogue in the film, and should she? As if all the horrific trials she's undergone weren't enough to exemplify her suffering, just a facial expression of woe on Cotillards face says it all.

Right up there with Cotillard in terms of excellence is the films cinematography. Darius Khondji is in charge of this particular part of the film and man oh man, is his work exceptional. Right from the start, where one noticeable shot holds two American flags over a crowed room of poorly treated immigrants, the cinematography helps drive home the movies bleak tone in unique and thoughtful ways. The visual extravaganza that Khondji and director James Grey concoct here is just a wonder to behold, but even that greatness isn't the films best aspect.

Joaquin Phoenix, after delivering another outstanding performance in the even better film Her, is officially my favorite actor after this performance. Hyperbole you say? Just go watch his mesmerizing role here, playing the equal parts vibrant and terrifying pimp/showman Bruno, where he keeps twisting and turning in his behavior to the point where one can't tell if he's about to kiss or verbally abuse Ewa. The screenwriters (Grey and Ric Manello) make sure Brunos irrationality comes as natural to him as breathing, and Phoenix just brings it to life in mesmerizing fashion. Lemme put it this way; I've seen a good chunk of summer blockbuster this season, and none of them are half as terrifying as Bruno when he's infuriated.

The film is unwavering in its devotion into depicting Ewas cruel circumstances, and it's so much better for it. A story like this practically craves an atmosphere filled with dread and pessimism, which everyone involved here gladly delivers. The only presence of happiness in this entire story is Emil, a magician that offers Ewa her only break from her existence of misery. That might not be enough for some audiences (my mother, who saw it with me, was put into a deep funk for about an hour after she saw it for instance), but I absolutely adored it. I'd definitely recommend giving it a shot, if only for Phoenix and Cotillards phenomenal performances.

No comments:

Post a Comment