Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Immigrant

Director: James Gray
With: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner

I deserve a medal for watching The Immigrant despite its very bland title, serious plot and not so enticing trailer. The fact that they chose this title despite being already used before by the iconic Charlie Chaplin is bewildering just because I think it's not practical to use the same title of a classic film especially if the title is as plain as 'The Immigrant'. But I'd rather them use that than one of their working titles which is 'Low Life'. 'The Nightingale' sounds lovely though but I'm also glad that they didn't use that because it's too pretty for this good yet unsatisfying film.

Everything about The Immigrant is actually great except for its screenplay. My first James Gray film and he impressed me with the beauty of the film. Costume and production design are truly top notch and the performance of Marion Cotillard, as usual, is mesmerizing. But overall, the lack of impact of the story makes this film rather forgettable.

I'm probably just not into period films, really. I always find myself not interested in the glitz and glamour of the old times. The cabaret life, theater and all those jazz, but even films like Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby captured my attention, Changeling too which I adore. I can even name a few more, Chicago, Moulin Rouge etc. so I guess it's not really the period that I'm not fond of, it's the story and the execution. Don't get me started with The Deep Blue Sea.  

The Immigrant just have the stiff storytelling in it despite its grand visuals and compelling events and characters. Marion Cotillard, like what I've already mentioned was superb as she's always been but I've seen so many performances of her that there's nothing new in what she did here. Nothing special and not her best but definitely blew everyone out the water in this film. Joaquin Phoenix was only good in the third act and the rest were just mediocre, especially when he's presenting his women in his theater. Jeremy Renner surprised me though. As if he's making up for his recently snubbed Carmine Polito performance after everyone in American Hustle shined. He definitely shined here. He provided the confidence required by his role.

The melodramatic and cinematic beauty that it provided is really commendable. Not to mention its ending. It is amazing and is the perfect ending that encompassed the relationship of the characters. But still, I don't recommend it to those with the attention span of a kid. It's brave, eager and continuous in evoking emotions of desperation, love, conscience, greed, jealousy and all those stuff, but as many themes The Immigrant has to offer, it still failed in being gratifying and memorable.