When I'm not screening piles of CVs

I'm at the movies or writing reviews

The Immigrant

Written by Joy Dembo on . Posted in 2014

The Immigrant is one of the best films I’ve seen this year!

Seldom does one see a truly moving and special film, and that is exactly what The Immigrant is!

I visited Ellis Island last in 2011.  I had been there before, but it’s just the kind of place that I never tire of visiting.  Yes, it’s a museum, but I always leave there feeling very pensive and wondering about those early immigrants who came to the USA to build a new life, how they were treated and what became of them.  Did they make it big?  Did they find gainful employment?  Did they have families already in the US to help them?  Were young ladies forced into prostitution in order to eek out a meager living? Did they die of a myriad of illnesses contracted on the ship or die from influenza, dysentery, typhoid etc rampant on the streets of New York in the 1920s.

The Immigrant tells the story of one of those people who was processed through Ellis Island and the trials and tribulations that faced her.
The movie begins in 1921, when Ewa (Played by the talented Marion Cotillard), and her sister arrive at Ellis Island from Poland.  They have left war torn Europe, where they had lost their home and witnessed their parents execution, to seek a better life, with their Uncle and Aunt in |New York.  Her sister contracts Tuberculosis on the ship, and is immediately quarantined,  and Ewa faces deportation when her uncle fails to arrive to fetch her and the officials are alerted to a concocted story about her questionable morals on the ship. A well dressed Gentleman, named Bruno (Played by Joaquin Phoenix) with some influence over the corrupt officials notices her in the deportation line and is impressed by the fact that she is able to speak English.  He shows sympathy for her plight, and bribes an officer to release her into his custody. With nowhere to go, no money and no job, Ewa  had no choice but to go with Bruno, who takes her to his house, and knowing that she needs money to get her sister out of the infirmary, he offers her a job as a dancer in a low class theatre, which is really just a front for prostitution.

But, Bruno starts to fall in love with her, although he won’t admit it.  She, on the other hand, despises him, and does what she has to do, putting her sister’s welfare before her own.

As the story unfolds, one is exposed to the indignities and inhumanity the poor were exposed to in 1920’s  New York.  Corruption and ulterior motives are rife, and Ewa finds her self fending off many enemies, but also making a good friend in Emil, Bruno’s cousin (Played by Jeremy Renner).

But, all is not as it seems, as is revealed to the audience in the final dramatic scene, when Ewa finds out the horrible truth!
The surprising ending will teach you a valuable lesson about trust and betrayal, but I’m not going to say any more. GO and see this beautifully made movie.

The movie was directed by James Gray and is all the more poignant as it was based on the recollections of his own grandparents who passed through Ellis Island in the 1920s, making  the film a very personal endeavor.

The movie is classified 18 LN, and was released on 24 October at Cinema Nouveau theatres countrywide.

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