Starring: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner
Directed By: James Gray
I know that James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix have a long history together. Gray has cast Phoenix in We Own The Night, Two Lovers, and The Yards, and now The Immigrant.
Phoenix does a decent job here, but in the grand list of Phoenix performances, this is not near the top. As a matter of fact, are any of his James Gray roles even in the Top 10?
A quick survey would rank Her, The Master, Walk The Line, Buffalo Soldiers, Quills, Gladiator, Return To Paradise, To Die For, Inventing The Abbotts, as nine of the top ten performances.
My point is, that James Gray doesn’t seem to challenge Joaquin Phoenix the way other directors do. To be fair, he didn’t really offer Jeremy Renner much of a challenge either. Marion Cotillard, however, is really good. She’s probably one of the best actresses working in Hollywood, and the film is written to give her a great performance.
She plays a woman who comes to America to live a better life, and ends up working as a prostitute for Phoenix’s character, and falling in love with a wannabe magician (Renner).
As far as the film itself, it is an interesting look into the past. It’s not a particularly engaging plot, and the love triangle is not engaging at all. You know Joaquin Phoenix is a villain, and Jeremy Renner isn’t. Cotillard is in a bad way, and needs someone to help her, so she gravitates to men with power.
It’s a slow film. I probably would have trimmed about 10-15 minutes off of the film. It ends up being more melodramatic than it really needed to be. Cotillard is the one reason to watch.
FINAL GRADE: C+