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James Gray
Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner
Writing Credits:
James Gray, Ric Menello

An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$44,064 on 3 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 117 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 4/7/2015

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director James Gray
• “The Visual Inspiration The Immigrant” Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Immigrant [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 5, 2015)

A historical drama that boasts Oscar-caliber actors, 2014’s The Immigrant takes us back to January 1921. Polish sisters Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and Magda Cybulska (Angela Sarafyan) flee their native land to come to more promising pastures in the United States.

However, when they reach Ellis Island, they hit a snag, as authorities declare Magda too ill to enter the country. Due to a possible lung disease, Magda gets quarantined for six months; if her symptoms don’t improve, she’ll find herself sent back to Poland. Ewa plans to live with her aunt and uncle, but her contact information for them appears to prove false.

This leaves Ewa on the verge of deportation, but not for long, as she soon meets Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who claims to work for the Travelers Aid Society. After she pleads her case, he agrees to help her. However, it turns out that Bruno wants to use Ewa for less than savory reasons and he turns her into a burlesque performer and a prostitute.

In the midst of this miserable circumstance, Ewa meets Bruno’s cousin Orlando (Jeremy Renner). A suave stage magician, Orlando falls for Ewa and becomes a possible avenue out of her terrible situation. However, Bruno also maintains feelings for Ewa, which complicates matters.

To date, Cotillard boasts two Oscar nominations, and she won for one of those roles. Both of those came from movies in which Cotillard spoke her natural French, but Cotillard has become more involved in efforts that require her to speak English.

My prior experiences with Cotillard in these English-speaking parts left me somewhat unimpressed. She became arguably the weakest link in the otherwise splendid Dark Knight Rises and didn’t stand out to me as memorable in the other American films.

Immigrant contrasts with those efforts in a number of ways. For one, it places Cotillard as the lead; she operated as a supporting character in the other flicks. In addition, it clearly features Cotillard as a non-American, so her facility with English became less of a potential liability. Granted, the other movies didn’t attempt to camouflage her accent, but her speech patterns make more sense here and allow us to accept any awkwardness she may show.

Freed of some of those language-related concerns, Cotillard does pretty well as Ewa. She’s probably too old for the part; Cotillard is almost 40, whereas Ewa seems like she’s supposed to be mid-twenties at most.

However, that doesn’t become a notable issue, as Cotillard does fine in the part. She maintains a good sense of emotional reserve and plays Ewa in a logical, appropriate manner that avoids gimmicks or emotional showiness.

Too bad the movie’s characters and story seem so thin. Actually, Bruno and Orlando muster moderate complexity, and they take us down somewhat unexpected paths. In particular, Bruno proves to be more than the simple sleaze he initially appears to be.

Nonetheless, Immigrant tends to lack a lot of depth, as it feels more like a dark dramatic fable about the American dream than a fleshed-out narrative. Much of the film proceeds at a slow pace, and by the time events start to heat up, it seems too late.

Immigrant provides a great-looking film, as its creators work hard to deliver a period tale that takes place in a realistic universe. We find a solid sense of the era and gorgeous cinematography. The movie seems to get the details right and turns into a lavish visual affair.

Unfortunately, I get the impression they devoted so much time and effort to that side of things that they neglected characters and narrative. Too much of The Immigrant feels hollow, as it just doesn’t develop the way it should. This leaves it as an attractive film but not an especially interesting one.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Immigrant appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie consistently looked good, though not exceptional.

For the most part, sharpness appeared positive. Some softness affected occasional wide shots, but the majority seemed distinctive and concise. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and I witnessed no edge haloes. As expected, no source flaws popped up during the clean presentation.

Also as expected of a period piece, Immigrant opted for a subdued palette. Sepia became the dominant tone, so virtually the whole movie tended that way; stage performances, manifested some reds, but don’t expect a wide array of hues. Given those restrictions, the colors seemed appropriate. Blacks were fairly deep, and shadows usually satisfied; a few shots were a bit dense, but most appeared positive. All of this added up to a solid “B” image.

I felt reasonably pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Immigrant. Given the movie’s semi-chatty nature, the soundscape didn’t come across as consistently involving. Still, street and theater scenes managed to add some involvment to the proceedings. While these didn’t dazzle, they used the five speakers well and added a nice sense of the action.

Audio quality was positive. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, while music was rich and clear. Nothing here created a killer soundtrack, but like the visuals, the audio deserved a “B”.

A few extras fill out the set, and we find an audio commentary from writer/director James Gray. He presents a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, influences and inspirations, historical elements, cast and performances, music and sound design, cinematography and visual details, and a mix of other topics.

Overall, Gray offers a good look at his film. He gives us a thoughtful, insightful take that explains a lot of his work and considers alternate viewpoints along the way. His tendency to offer vocal impersonations of cast and crew gets old quickly, but despite that, I find a lot to like in this informative chat.

The Visual Inspiration of The Immigrant runs two minutes, 54 seconds and includes narration from Gray. He discusses the movie’s look and elements that influenced the cinematography. Complete with examples, this short featurette adds some decent information.

The disc opens with ads for The Master and The Imitation Game. We also get the trailer for The Immigrant.

Despite the talents of some notable actors, The Immigrant delivers a somewhat flat look at its subject. The story moves at a slow pace and lacks the depth necessary to make it succeed. The Blu-ray provides good picture and audio as well as a couple of interesting supplements. Parts of The Immigrant satisfy, but the end product doesn’t do much for me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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