Richly wrought out of the finest melodrama silk, James Gray's The Immigrant breathes and shines with a sense of complete and all encompassing realism, be it in the exquisite, almost palpable and luxurious mise-en-scène, or in the emotional core of the narrative, comprised by a script that, while at times feeling a tad tame or too restrained, brings to the surface an enveloping tale of regret and personal betterment.
Great piece of Cinema. It captures a style in telling stories that I guess we're losing over the years: can't tell if it's a good or a bad thing, but it was really nice to rediscover that taste in such a well-crafted film. (One thing I didn't like was some pretty evident chroma keying, that didn't fit at all with the otherwise classy mise-en-scène.) And Cotillard really is a star, impossibly beautiful and talented.
The constant zig zag between complete foreboding and then theatrical flourishes that have an almost magical realist energy is incredibly engaging. Everything that's here, I love, and it's visually breathtaking in a wonderfully understated way. Still, I wish this had a bit more room to breathe, a bit more connective tissue, a bit more characterization, a bit more everything. Falls just short of being a masterpiece.
Like a lot of his films, one more time this one proves that James Gray is one of the greatest contemporary American directors. Recovering the story of an immigrant and a tough love, Gray manages to be incisive and mirror the characteristics of American cinema in the images, in the plot and in the ending of a good film.
Gray's films with co-screenwriter Richard Menello aren't as strong, lacking in dramatic power until the great climax and final shot. Like their Two Lovers, it's an unmemorable and emotionally indifferent buildup to an inevitable but finally effectively emotional and dramatically rich conclusion. Before it’s too clinical and reserved to arouse and emote. Characters don’t undergo much change or development, either.