The Immigrant (2013 film)

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The Immigrant
The Immigrant 2013 poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by James Gray
Produced by James Gray
Anthony Katagas
Greg Shapiro
Christopher Woodrow
Written by Ric Menello
James Gray
Starring Marion Cotillard
Joaquin Phoenix
Jeremy Renner
Music by Chris Spelman
Cinematography Darius Khondji
Edited by John Axelrad
Kayla Emter
Worldview Entertainment
Keep Your Head
Kingsgate Films
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • May 24, 2013 (2013-05-24) (Cannes)
  • May 16, 2014 (2014-05-16) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million[1]
Box office $5.9 million[2]

The Immigrant is a 2013 American drama film directed by James Gray, starring Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner. It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[3] The working titles of the film were Low Life and The Nightingale.[4]


In 1921, Polish Catholic sisters Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and Magda (Angela Sarafyan) arrive at Ellis Island, New York City as immigrants looking for a better life after escaping their ravaged home in post–Great War Poland. Magda is quarantined because of her lung disease. Ewa is almost deported, but Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) notices her and her fluency in English, bribes an officer to let her go, and takes her to his house. Knowing Ewa has to make money to get Magda released, Bruno lets her dance at the Bandits' Roost theater and prostitutes her. Bruno also becomes interested in her romantically.

Ewa looks for her expatriate relatives living in New York, but her uncle by marriage turns her in to the authorities; he says he had heard she had gotten in trouble for engaging in illicit behavior on the ship from Europe, and he wishes to distance himself from sheltering a prostitute. Policemen take her back to Ellis Island, and once again she is slated for deportation. While at Ellis Island Ewa watches a performance by Emil (Jeremy Renner) (Bruno's cousin, making a living as a performing illusionist called Orlando); after his performance he hands her a white rose. The next morning Bruno manages to get her released.

Ewa meets Emil again at the Bandit's Roost. Emil asks Ewa to come onstage to aid him in his mind reading trick, but the men in the audience start yelling slanders at Ewa. The scene ends in brawl between Bruno and Emil and with Bruno and the girls being fired from the theatre. Soon after Bruno has his "doves" parade around Central Park to attract men to sleep with them. Another encounter between Emil and Ewa proves Emil's feelings for her. Emil falls for Ewa, much to Bruno's discontent, which causes continued and intense conflicts between the two men. One violent conflict concludes with Bruno's being jailed overnight.

One day, Emil sneaks into Bruno's home to see Ewa. While there, he promises to get her the money to save her sister so they can all leave New York together. Coincidentally, shortly after making such promise, Emil hides as Bruno returns. Bruno also makes a promise to Ewa: he is to arrange for her a meeting with her sister. But Emil interrupts Bruno, as he pulls out an unloaded gun and points it at Bruno. Emil pulls the trigger just to frighten him, but his attempt at intimidating Bruno backfires, as Bruno stabs him to death in apparent self-defense.

Overcoming the shock and distress of the death, Bruno and Ewa dump Emil's body in the street at night to get rid of unwanted police investigations, but the police are told by another prostitute whom Ewa had had conflicts with that Ewa killed Emil. Bruno hides Ewa from the police, who then give him a severe beating and steal a large bundle of money he had been carrying. Ewa learns Bruno had had enough money to pay for her sister's release all along but was hiding it from her as he did not want her to leave him. Bruno claims he has now had a change of heart and would help Ewa and her sister if he had any money. Ewa makes another contact with her aunt and successfully pleads for her aunt to give her the money for Magda. With it, Bruno pays his contact on Ellis Island to release Ewa's sister and gives them both tickets to New Jersey. Ewa and Magda leave, while a repentant Bruno stays in New York, intending to confess to the police about Emil's killing.



Director James Gray said The Immigrant is "80% based on the recollections from my grandparents, who came to the United States in 1923", and he described it as "my most personal and autobiographical film to date".[5] He was also inspired by Giacomo Puccini's opera Il Trittico.[6]

Because Gray wrote about 20 pages of dialogue in Polish, Cotillard "had to learn Polish to take on the role and speak English with a credible Polish accent."[7]


Cast and director at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The Immigrant screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival,[8] the 2013 Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival, the 2013 New York Film Festival,[9] the 2013 Chicago International Film Festival,[10] the 2014 Miami International Film Festival, the 2014 Newport Beach International Film Festival[11] and the 2014 Sedona Film Festival.[12]

The film was released in the United States on May 16, 2014.[13]


The Immigrant received generally positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 88% based on 104 reviews; the general consensus states: "Beautiful visuals, James Gray's confident direction, and a powerful performance from Marion Cotillard combine to make The Immigrant a richly rewarding period drama."[14] Metacritic gave the film a rating of 76/100, based on 34 reviews.[15]

Michael Phillips of Chicago Tribune described the film as "Gray's most satisfying to date, an ode to melodrama of another day, done with style and surprising restraint."[16] Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine gave the film 3 and a half out of 4 stars, saying that "The Immigrant feels closer in spirit to Roberto Rossellini's collaborations with Ingrid Bergman" and calling it "Gray's Voyage to Italy".[17] Brian Clark of Twitch Film gave the film a mixed review, commenting that "while the film boasts great performances, the narrative and overall drama lacks the ferocity, momentum and intensity of Grey's other work".[18] Lee Marshall of Screen International in his unfavorable review wrote that "though Gray offers a well-crafted package, especially on the visual front, there's surprisingly little contemporary resonance in this immigration melodrama".[19]

Time ranked Marion Cotillard's performance in the film as the fourth best performance of 2014, shared with her performance in Two Days, One Night.[20]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or James Gray Nominated
International Cinephile Society Awards Prix du Jury James Gray Won
Best Actress Marion Cotillard Won
Best Picture Not Released in 2013 Won
Munich Film Festival ARRI/OSRAM Award - Best International Film James Gray Nominated
Ghent International Film Festival Grand Prix James Gray Nominated
Chicago International Film Festival Audience Choice Award James Gray Nominated
Newport Beach Film Festival Outstanding Achievement in Directing James Gray Won
Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking - Ensemble Cast Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner Won
2014 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Marion Cotillard
(shared with Two Days, One Night)
Best Cinematographer Darius Khondji Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Award Best Actress Marion Cotillard
(shared with Two Days, One Night)
Toronto Film Critics Association Best Actress Marion Cotillard Won
Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead Marion Cotillard Nominated
Best Cinematography Darius Khondji Nominated


  1. ^ Cronk, Jordan (May 24, 2013). "Cannes Film Festival 2013: The Immigrant Review". Slant Magazine. 
  2. ^ "The Immigrant (2014) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ "2013 Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. 20 April 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  4. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 24, 2013). "The Immigrant: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  5. ^ Dale, Martin (December 4, 2013). "James Gray – 'I'm Very Bad at Directing Actors'". Variety. 
  6. ^ Kilday, Gregg (May 21, 2013). "Cannes: James Gray on 'The Immigrant,' Marion Cotillard and Returning to the Fest (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  7. ^ Smith, Nigel (May 24, 2013), Cannes: Marion Cotillard On Learning Polish to Play 'The Immigrant' for James Gray (Who Reveals He Was Unfamiliar With the Actress), Indiewire, retrieved November 2, 2014 
  8. ^ Debruge, Peter (May 24, 2013). "Cannes Film Review: 'The Immigrant'". Variety. 
  9. ^ Nakhnikian, Elise (October 6, 2013). "New York Film Festival 2013: The Immigrant Review". Slant Magazine. 
  10. ^ Sachs, Ben (October 9, 2013). "CIFF Director Spotlight: James Gray presents The Immigrant". Chicago Reader. 
  11. ^ "The Immigrant - Saturday Night Spotlight 2014". April 26, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Sedona Film Festival 2014 Calendar: The Immigrant". June 24, 2014. 
  13. ^ Perez, Rodrigo (March 21, 2014). "James Gray's 'The Immigrant' Starring Marion Cotillard & Joaquin Phoenix Will Land In Limited Release On May 16". IndieWire. 
  14. ^ "The Immigrant". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  15. ^ "The Immigrant Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  16. ^ Phillips, Michael (October 9, 2013). "Pedigreed or not, Chicago Int'l Film Festival films entice". Chicago Tribune. 
  17. ^ Gonzalez, Ed (October 4, 2013). "The Immigrant - Film Review". Slant Magazine. 
  18. ^ Clark, Brian (May 25, 2013). "Cannes 2013 Review: Coming to America is Gorgeous, But Slow Business in James Gray's The Immigrant". Twitch Film. 
  19. ^ Marshall, Lee (May 24, 2013). "The Immigrant - Reviews". Screen International. 
  20. ^ "Time - Top 10 Best Performances of 2014". Time. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 

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