Marion Cotillard is an icon of suffering in James Gray’s somber passion play The Immigrant. As he did in Little Odessa, The Yards, and We Own the Night, Gray introduces us to a dysfunctional family and a criminal subculture prone to preying on the weak, going light on narrative twists to focus on the milieu and the interplay between his main characters. But where the best of his work sweeps you up in a tide of emotion and imagery so strong you aren’t tripped up by on-the-nose dialogue or underdeveloped characters, The Immigrant sometimes makes it difficult to suspend disbelief.
Darius Khondji (#1–10 of 2)
The Immigrant is the film James Gray has been working toward his entire career. He’s established a unique reputation over 20 years and four features. His first three films (Little Odessa, The Yards, We Own the Night) dealt largely with a world of criminal activity and frayed family bonds, often times between brothers. Two Lovers followed soon after, betraying the first signs of Gray’s thematic maturation. A simple love triangle rendered equal parts beautiful and devastating, the film was both vital and transitional for the filmmaker. His latest, the intimately focused, epically scaled period piece The Immigrant, is, finally, his masterpiece, a classical melodrama of high ambition and fulfilled promise.