The Immigrant–AMC Metreon-San Francisco

Take a break from the franchise blockbusters, romantic comedies, and the man-boy genre, that have been entertaining & fun, but not desert island films. THE IMMIGRANT has the makings of a story that will stand the test of time. It is a beautifully told story about two young girls from Poland who are supposed to meet relatives in the New York City area. Things go horribly wrong & it becomes a story of survival.

It’s wrong to give away the story line, even an inexperienced reviewer (such as I am) knows this. So, I won’t. It’s also about Redemption, a theme that when handled properly, needs no special effects. One scene in particular was a surprise. For the last 25 years, the Catholic Church has been under almost relentless attack from issues ranging from priests who abused altar boys, to financial mismanagement & intolerance towards homosexual persons. Much of this lambasting has been long overdue. But, for once, a film depicts the Church in a positive light, and not by using saccharine. The female lead, Ewa (Marion Cotillard) manages to break away from her confinement, to make Confession. What she has to confess is that she has become a woman who sells herself in order to help her sister, who is undergoing medical confinement. The priest who heard her Confession does not judge her. Instead, he urges her to “get away from that man as soon as you can…” If was as if he understood that she was in over her head, and he gave her the best advice he could under the circumstances. He did not condemn her to Hell, as she thought. She followed his instructions, when she could.

This film explores corruption surrounding the immigration policies of the time, 1921, Ellis Island, New York. The labyrinth of deception is overwhelming. Joaquin Phoenix (as Bruno Weisss) was just as trapped in a world of his own making as those he conscripted to perform in this sordid entrapment. It was Jeremy Renner, as Orlando the Magician–a cousin to Bruno, who is most deceptive of all. Jeremy Renner was stellar in this part, seemingly innocent, till light is shed upon his darkness.

The issues surrounding immigration to this place where a young Polish girl dresses as The Statue of Liberty in a libertine review have always been complex, fraught with moral compromise. From the Landing of the earliest Pilgrims, the confusion of religious freedom with liberty to take land from the indigenous, fast forward to our bi-polar relationship with Mexico & many other countries. The Immigrant does not attempt to tap into all these areas of immigration history. But it is another important part of the continuum of literature that addresses the loss & sacrifices that so many had to make in order to call this place home. (Directed by James Gray).

Marion Cotillard as Ewa Cybulski
Joaquin Phoenix as Bruno Weiss
Jeremy Renner as Orlando the Magician / Emil
Yelena Solovey as Rosie Hertz
Dagmara Dominczyk as Belva
Maja Wampuszyc as Aunt Edyta
Angela Sarafyan as Magda Cybulski
Ilia Volok as Voytek
Antoni Corone as Thomas MacNally
Dylan Hartigan as Roger
DeeDee Luxe as Bandits Roost Tart
Gabriel Rush as Delivery Boy
Kevin Cannon as Missionary


This was a gem that might be overlooked in the rush for "BIG" blockbusters.  It was a fine film & deserves an appreciative audience.

This was a gem that might be overlooked in the rush for “BIG” blockbusters. It was a fine film & deserves an appreciative audience.

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