The latest in the flood of Oscar-hungry films arriving this fall is James Gray’s The Immigrant, a Palme d’Or contender at this year’s Cannes film festival. Its very pretty—but very confusing, and also sort of weird—trailer aims right for audiences who want to see a depressing movie about immigration set in 1920. In it, Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix wear pretty, historically appropriate clothes. There is some stuff about Ellis Island, and someone gets deported. As the trailer goes on, Cotillard wears more and more makeup. A broken-down naked woman washes another woman’s hair, saying the word “fucking” in a heavy accent. Then Jeremy Renner shows up, he floats, and he has a very shady looking mustache. Then Renner and Phoenix fight, with a gun.
Fortunately, there’s an actual synopsis, which tells us that Cotillard plays a Polish immigrant trying to survive on the “mean streets of Manhattan,” Phoenix plays the fedora-wearing pimp who pushes her into prostitution, and Renner plays his cousin, a magician. It looks like they both fall in love with Cotillard (which, reasonable) but she’s partial to the guy who didn’t manipulate her into a life of destitution (also reasonable). There’s dramatic music and a lot of mood lighting to seal the deal, as well as, presumably, some serious emotional drama over the psychological toll of both immigration and prostitution. It definitely looks like the type of thing that gets awards.