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The Immigrant (Blu-ray Review)

Immigrant ThumbAnchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company are proud to announce the home entertainment release of the visually stunning film, THE IMMIGRANT.Hailed by theA.V. Club’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky as “an American masterpiece,” audiences can own the film on DVD and Blu-Ray™ April 7, 2015.  Following its world premiere at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the Palme d’Or prize, The Weinstein Company released this compelling drama theatrically on May 16, 2014. The New York Film Critics Circle awarded Academy Award® nominee Darius Khondji the prize for Best Cinematographer and Marion Cotillard for Best Actress. Cotillard and Khondjihave both been nominated for a 2015 Independent Spirit Award for their great achievements in the film.

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Film 

In James Gray’s (Two Lovers, We Own the Night) THE IMMIGRANT, Ewa Cybulska (Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard) and her sister sail to New York from their native Poland in search of a new start and the American dream. When they reach Ellis Island, doctors discover that Magda (Angela Sarafyan) is ill, and the two women are separated. Ewa is released onto the mean streets of Manhattan and quickly falls prey to Bruno (Academy Award® nominee Joaquin Phoenix), a charming but wicked man who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. The arrival of Orlando (Academy Award® nominee Jeremy Renner) – a dashing stage magician who is also Bruno’s cousin – restores her self-belief and hopes for a brighter future, becoming her only chance to escape the nightmare in which she finds herself.

The Immigrant is a nicely made film, solidly directed, shot with some style, tells a period story and has three likable leads.  However, there’s nothing really interesting enough on it to make it very memorable or to stick with you afterward.  And while I gave it those compliments, the story starts to wear and tire once the first act reveals its turn into the rest of the film.  Even when something big does occur in the second act, its not as intense or suspenseful as it really should have played out.  All in all, its nice, but kinda boring at times.

Marion Cotillard is one of the best and most beautiful performers we have the modern film climate.  She’s absolutely wonderful in this film.  Its sort of a good thing when that’s business a usual for you.  However, her great turn here really isn’t grounds enough to recommend the viewing the film.  While its a terrific performance, its not tops on her list, and she’s done plenty of other similar films that I’d recommend over this.

Disappointingly, this really isn’t a good turn for normally great Joaquin Phoenix.  He seems rather disinterested most of the time.  Its either that, or he’s struggling to deliver a believable performance of a character from this time period.  This marks another collaboration with James Gray from him (Previous acted for him in the underrated We Own The Night), so there’s not some sort of familiarity separation.  I dunno, but in an odd twist, he’s one of the weaker elements in the film.

The Immigrant is a “nice” movie, but ultimately one that leaves me with the feeling “Yup, I saw it”.  There’s nothing bad about the movie, but I just can’t really get on board with a “strong like” even.  For a period/art film, its just a step above mediocrity and generic.  Its cast is nice, but not enough to elevate it to something else.  I’ve found myself in the minority here as apparently this movie was pretty well lauded by critics and those at festivals.  I’m not saying its bad, I just found it to be very average.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  Hipstagram lovers should enjoy the look of this one.  Someone pushed the “sepia tone” filter option.  The image is an intentional soft and features that sepia look to feel more of its time.  Detail is decent enough, but has been sacrificed for the look.

Depth:  Some good work here.  Background images remain pretty clear and movements are rather smooth.  Characters feel spacey and free in their environments.

Black Levels:  Blacks run deep at times and in other spots a little brighter.  Detail feels hidden, though outlines and such can be noticed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are flat, and there’s a real golden look over everything due to the sepia old timey feel.

Flesh Tones: Yellow tinted.  Detail is good, but not great.  Wrinkles, moles and some blemishes can be made out.

Noise/Artifacts: Pretty clean.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA,

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Not a very demanding track.  It gets the job done and that’s about it.  Vocals excel, which is what you want from this.  Effects and score are blended in nicely to fully compliment the action.

Low Frequency Extension:  Nothing real big of merit.  I’ll give it credit for not overdoing anything or showing up where otherwise unnecessary.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Not much.  Some good ambiance from the rear speakers, during the dock and theatre scenes that give a real feeling of environment.  Front speakers pick up and display accordingly.

Dialogue Reproduction: Crisp and clean.  Center-focused.

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Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Director James Gray

The Visual Inspiration Of The Immigrant (HD, 2:54) – James Gray narrates over photos of Ellis Island immigrants from the two interspersed with scenes from the movie.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:28)

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Summary 

The Immigrant is on the mild side of decent.  Its sort of an “also ran” story you’ve seen done many times before, but doesn’t contribute anything unique enough to keep it from being forgotten after the credits start.  Marion Cotillard is terrific, but then again, when isn’t she?  This Blu-ray has above average technical merits in the audio and video department, but I feel could have offered more in the extras department.  This is at a decent pricepoint currently that a blind buy isn’t going to put you out a lot if you’re curious, but my suggestion really strongly would be for a rental.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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