Movie review: THE IMMIGRANT (with LINK to VIDEO)

Summer is traditionally the season for blockbuster Hollywood movies. But THE IMMIGRANT (showing at the Ko'olau Theatres in Kaneohe) is an early Oscar contender.

THE IMMIGRANT is a serious, well acted drama about a young Polish woman who arrives in New York in 1921 and then struggles just to survive.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, THE IMMIGRANT is one of the strongest movies of the year so far.

Arriving at Ellis Island in 1921, Marion Cotillard as Ewa is separated from her sister who has lung disease.

Immigration official: Your name, please.
Ewa: Ewa Cybulska; she's my sister. is something wrong?
Official: She has to be deported.
Ewa: No! We never go back.

Desperate, Ewa appeals to Joaquin Phoenix as Bruno Weiss. Unbeknownst to her, Bruno is a pimp who preys on young immigrant women.

Bruno: They're sending you back.
Ewa: No, no, no. I can work. You know this man; you talk to them…. please, please.

Bruno pays off an official and, to be fair, at first he only wants to use Ewa in a burlesque show he produces, because he's a bit smitten by this young woman.

Bruno: What's the matter?
Ewa: I leave my sister here.
Bruno: Do not worry; she'll get the best medical care available. Do you have a place to stay?
Ewa: No. Do…. do you know somewhere?

Inevitably, because Ewa is so beautiful, Bruno's customers want to have sex with her and he simply cannot resist the money. It's a grim situation for this proud and determined young woman, but with no money to live on let alone pay for her sister to be released from Ellis Island, what else can she do?

THE IMMIGRANT is rich in emotion and in atmosphere. Every shot convincingly recreates the reality of New York in the early 20th century.

Director James Gray has created a superb melodrama about a woman who does what she must and a man who gradually becomes tormented by what he's done to her.
And then there's Bruno's cousin, Orlando, the magician, played by Jeremy Renner who charms Ewa but can do little to help her.

Orlando: Listen, I've seen a lot of girls in your situation. and let me tell you, it does not matter what you do….you got a right to be happy, Ewa.

If you love bold, impassioned movies, get over to the Ko'olau Theaters to see THE IMMIGRANT.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.