Despite all its qualities, “The Immigrant” did not have a great success in theaters. The fault of Harvey Weinstein, who did everything to change the editing of James Gray’s film and managed to limit the publicity around it and that Marion Cotillard did not get an Oscar nomination.
The Immigrantthe work of James Gray
After realizing Two Lovers (2008) and before tackling The Lost City of Z (2016), James Gray proposed The Immigrant (2013), his fifth feature film. A demanding work, as always with the filmmaker. Indeed, there is in the cinema of James Gray this feeling that his films, all of quality, only fully reveal themselves on second viewing. This is perhaps where the magic works best, allowing him to have adoring cinephiles and within the critical press, but ultimately relatively little success in theaters.
The Immigrant is no exception. The film tells the story of two Polish sisters who emigrate to New York in the early 1920s. Ewa, played by Marion Cotillardsees his sister Magda being placed in quarantine because she has tuberculosis.
To try to get her out of there, Ewa will agree to prostitute herself after being taken in by Bruno, a pimp. Despite this dramatic situation for Ewa, Orlando, Bruno’s cousin, will give her some hope. Falling in love with her, he will do his best to change her condition but will face Bruno’s jealousy.
James Gray offers with The Immigrant a controlled tragedy with complex characters. There is not only rejection towards the character of Bruno, nor an unfailing empathy towards Ewa. Moreover, Marion Cotillard once again proves her talent, Joaquin Phoenix dominates the cast in the role of Bruno, and Jeremy Renner perhaps holds its best role in Orlando
Harvey Weinstein, “the god of editing”?
Present in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival (where James Gray has always been shunned), the film could certainly have had a more important career in theaters and why not go glean some awards at the Oscars. Unfortunately, Harvey Weinsteinwhich bought the rights to distribute the film in the United States, decided otherwise.
Indeed, it is indeed the former producer, since sentenced for rape and sexual assault, who would be at the origin of the lack of success of the film. As James Gray explained to vulnerabilityHarvey Weinstein would have does everything to make the film flop. While James Gray had, by his contract, from final cutthe producer would have tried to reassemble his film and change the end.
He was in the editing room. He called me and said “My daughter was born this morning”. I said “Oh, congratulations”. “Don’t congratulate me, I’m in the editing room working on your film.” I replied “Well, I didn’t ask you to do that.” And he started “Fuck you, I’m doing this for you.” No, you’re doing this for yourself. You are trying to make a movie. You’re trying to be a frustrated director now. “Fuck you, I’m Harvey Weinstein! I’m the editing god!”
After this stormy exchange, James Gray discovered the editing of The Immigrant proposed by Weinstein.
It had been 88 minutes. It was completely inconsistent. There was a voiceover everywhere. It was crazy. If the movie had come out in this version, you would have seen it and said “James Gray is an incompetent”.
Marion Cotillard could have gone to the Oscars
The filmmaker also tells the end that Harvey Weinstein wanted in a honeyed spirit which has nothing to do with what The Immigrant finally.
He wanted Marion Cotillard and her sister walking up a mountain. Then a cut, and Marion with make-up to age her and say “When I was younger, this is the life I had, but now my sister and I live well”. A kind of mix between Titanic and The Sound of Music. I felt that the last shot of the film was very important, and I wasn’t going to compromise on that. Obviously he hated my last plan.
Harvey Weinstein therefore put pressure on James Gray by threatening not to go out The Immigrantor possibly to make it into a TV movie by releasing it on the Lifetime channel. But the filmmaker held firm, preferring to stick to his guns with the risk that no one would discover his work.
It was completely crazy of me. But my idea was that the film would end up being released elsewhere. One day. And that if the movie has any value, someone would find out years from now. If it has no value, it does not deserve to be known.
The Immigrant has therefore arrived in theaters, but Harvey Weinstein has limited advertising around. The film was released in just 150 theaters (according to Mojo). In comparison, The night belongs to us (2007) had 2402. In addition, as explained in Telegraph, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive for Marion Cotillard and, according to the director, the actress would have easily could be nominated for an Oscar, even win a prize. But Harvey Weinstein, of course, refrained from pushing in this direction with the Academy.
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The Immigrant: Harvey Weinstein ruined the success of the film