The Immigrant (2013)

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Released 14-Jan-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-Other Roadshow releases x 3
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 112:28
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Gray

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Marion Cotillard
Joaquin Phoenix
Jeremy Renner
Angela Sarafyan
Dagmara Dominezyk
Jicky Schnee
Yelena Solovey

Case ?
RPI ? Music Christopher Spelman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     January 1921; a boat from Europe carrying immigrants and refugees including Polish sisters Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and Magda (Angela Sarafyan) arrives at Ellis Island, New York. Magda is found to suffer from TB and is placed in quarantine on the island while Ewa, because of an incident on the boat, is deemed an undesirable and slated for deportation. However she is rescued by “fixer” Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix) and taken off the island. Bruno runs a string of dancers / prostitutes including Belva (Dagmara Dominezyk) and Clara (Jicky Schnee) at the burlesque club owned by Rosie (Yelena Solovey). Initially, Ewa works as a seamstress but her beauty, and her need to earn enough money to treat Magda’s illness, means she also becomes part of the show and a prostitute.

     Bruno is smitten by Ewa which creates resentment and friction with some of the other girls, but Ewa hates herself for what she has become and also hates Bruno. She tries to escape, but fails and becomes resigned to her fate until she meets Bruno’s cousin Emil (Jeremy Renner), also called Orlando the Magician, and starts to glimpse the possibility of a different life. Bruno, however, is jealous and the stage is set for another tragedy in Ewa’s life.

     The Immigrant is directed and co-written by James Gray apparently drawing on his grandparents’ experience as immigrants to the USA. On the evidence of the film, that could hardly have been pleasant for much of The Immigrant is depressing as every time Ewa seems to have a chance to change her circumstances, or to gain an entry into the American Dream, it is quickly extinguished. Yet the film does end with a sequence of hope, forgiveness and ultimate redemption, so I guess the American Dream did work for some. The Immigrant also looks beautiful. It has a sepia colour palate, and evokes in its sets, period vehicles, costumes and widescreen locations a lost 1920s New York of burlesque shows, corruption, tenements and sleaze.

     Gray has hardly been prolific, only directing five feature films in two decades, his first being the acclaimed Little Odessa in 1994. All his subsequent films, including The Immigrant, have featured Joaquin Phoenix so the pair obviously enjoy working together. Gray is rewarded for his trust in Phoenix by a superb performance. His Bruno is a charming and charismatic man but he is also a fixer, a pimp and a manipulator, prone to violent rages and it is to Phoenix’s credit that we both feel his pain and can believe that Ewa can be drawn into his spell. Marion Cotillard in her first English role (although she was required to learn 20 pages of Polish dialogue!) is also excellent as the determined, vulnerable and beautiful Ewa, doing things she hates to try to save her sister and ultimately finding a kind of peace. Jeremy Renner is less convincing but it may not be his fault as this part of the story feels contrived, however the rest of the characters are natural and believable.

     The Immigrant was shown at Venice in 2013 and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes but lost out to the hype of Blue is the Warmest Color. It may be slow moving in parts, but it looks beautiful and the acting is wonderful, drawing us into the fable of the American Dream and the world of New York in the 1920s.

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Transfer Quality


     The Immigrant is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close to the 2.35:1 original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     As noted, the film utilises a sepia colour palate that mutes the colours and also makes for a soft print. Close-ups are fine, but background and shadow detail can be indistinct. Blacks vary and skin tones also have that yellowish tinge. Brightness and contrast is consistent.

     I did not notice any artefacts or marks although there was some shimmer right at the conclusion of the end titles.

     The layer change at 54:38 created a slight pause during a scene change.

    English descriptive captions for the hearing impaired are available is a largish white font. White English subtitles came on automatically to translate the sections of Polish dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps plus there is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio descriptive track for the vision impaired at 224 Kbps using a female voice.

     Dialogue is easy to understand and centred. This is not an action film so the surrounds were not overused but there was support in the way of weather effects, such as rain and thunder, voices in the restaurant and during burlesque club performances and the music. The sub-woofer gave appropriate support to the thunder and music.

    The orchestral score by Christopher Spelman was melancholy and effective, and was supported by opera, classical and period music.

    Lip synchronisation fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Start up Trailers

     Trailers for The Giver (2:21), The Judge (2:20) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (0:56) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

    There are no other extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region A Blu-ray release of The Immigrant includes an audio commentary by the co-writer / director James Gray that is reported to be intelligent and well-spoken and a short (2:54) featurette on the visual inspirations for the film. I have no information as to whether the commentary is included on the Region 1 DVD which is due to be released 7/4/2015.

     There is not currently a Region 2 UK DVD although there are Region 2 French and German releases, the French version listed as including cast and crew interviews which may or may not be subtitled. Take your choice.


     The Immigrant is a beautiful film evoking 1920s New York with compelling performances by Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. It is slow moving and sad yet the film does end with a sequence of hope, forgiveness and redemption.

     The video is manipulated but looks as the filmmakers intended, the audio appropriate. The extras are limited to some trailers for other films.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, April 08, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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