The Immigrant

Rated 3.0

For two decades now, from Little Odessa to Two Lovers to his latest effort The Immigrant, the films of director James Gray have held a tantalizing and barely unrealized promise. Telling the story of a fresh-off-the-boat Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) who falls in with a shady club promoter (Joaquin Phoenix, anachronistic and uncharacteristically one-dimensional) in early 20th century New York City, The Immigrant is classic almost-there Gray—solemnly pitched, lovingly mounted, emotionally cool and ultimately empty. The Immigrant is an interesting attempt to make a deliberately old-fashioned American epic, and the sepia-tinged images recall period-appropriate silent films as much as they do yellowed photographs. Gray carves away genre trappings to expose the small-time chintziness and chicanery at the heart of the American Dream, but what's left is just a carcass of clichés, and the line between re-examining well-worn tropes and recycling them is practically nonexistent.