The Immigrant (R)
Drama 120 May 16, 2014
A knight in a bowler and a celluloid collar, Joaquin Phoenix's Bruno runs a cabaret/brothel, and he persuades Ewa to join his bevy of salacious beauties. Ewa, of course, stands out in that crowd. Her face -- Cotillard's face -- is determined and refined, even after her virtue has been sullied. Bruno tries to possess her, but it's his cousin, Orlando (Jeremy Renner), who charms her. None of the characters read as precisely good or bad, conniving or kind: Scoundrels can have noble hearts, and purity isn't the same as innocence.
The Immigrant feels both epic and fine-grained. Shot by Darius Khondji, partly on location on Ellis Island, The Immigrant is quietly glorious to look at, rendered in muted brick-and-mortar tones that glow as if lit from behind by lantern light. The Immigrant is a story about the way determination can morph into a kind of rough magic, turning a place where you're not wanted into one you can call home.