CANNES, France (BlackTree) — James Gray’s sincere melodrama “The Immigrant” has divided the Cannes Film Festival not for its politics or its audaciousness, but for its sentimentality.
Gray’s 1920s Ellis Island tale, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, has been called the most divisive film at this year’s Cannes, where it premiered in competition Friday night. He made it, he says, aspiring to “the absolute commitment to the emotion of the moment.”
“It’s very unhip, by the way, to do that,” Gray said in an interview Saturday at a hotel on the Croisette. “There is no postmodern irony, which I’m sure is totally infuriating to some. What lasts is what we’re talking about. What lasts is extending our sympathies. That, to me, is what lasts.”
Cotillard stars as a Polish immigrant who arrives at New York’s Ellis Island (shot on location) in 1921 with her sister. After her sister is sent to the infirmary, Cotillard’s character is taken in by a pimp (Phoenix), who puts her to work in his cabaret show.