Between Gastby and the Immigrant, period dramas in old New York were specially represented in the last Cannes Festival. When Gastby is more a drama using modern esthetics and music, the James Gray movie, tries to replicate an exact picture of how hard this time was.
This is the story of an individual left to his own, as it was for numerous people running away to the United States at this time; a story of a young women Ewa (Marion Cotillard) who tries to make it through the customs and built a better life. Nonetheless, her sister Magda cannot follows her sister American dream, as she suffers from tuberculose and has to stay in Ellis Island. Facing this reality, Ewa will do everything to help her sister, even being trapped in Bruno (Joaquin Phenix) manipulations and prostitutes herself.
Of course, this theme will remind you the classic “Once Upon A time In America” by Sergio Leone when one person has his dreams smashed by a tragic fate bigger than his poor conditions. But to be honest, this far away from this movie level.
Indeed, even though you could be charmed by the photography and the cozy ambiance of the 20’s, the character interactions and the story line are pretty precarious. I mean, I wasn’t sure what the love triangle between Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phenix and Jeremy Rener really brings to the story when it’s actually not exploited.
That might be the risk when a great director disposes of great actors but maybe too big for such banal story. The texture work, especially with the costumes, was really interesting but at the end all of this doesn’t make a poignant movie.
However, if you have to remember this movie, this is for James Gray genius scene shot at the very end.