Writer/director James Grey's latest film is a period piece set in New York City circa 1921. It stars Marion Cotillard as Ewa, a Polish immigrant fresh off the boat with her sister Magda. When they arrive at Ellis island, Magda is taken to the hospital to be treated for lung disease and Ewa is threatened with deportation. She is rescued by Bruno, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and thus begins a complicated relationship when Bruno doesn't turn out to be the savior he appears to be.
Mr. Grey shoots the film in a sepia tone to help give the illusion of 1921 and with authentic sets and some CGI, viewing the film appears to be a genuine return to the past. The hardships of life on the lower east side of New York are many and life does not go easy for Ewa as she struggles to earn money to help her sister. As the story unfolds, she meets Orlando the Magician, played by Jeremy Renner, who has a history with Bruno and offers Ewa a possibility of a better life.
The three leads are the only "name" actors in the film and they are all excellent, especially Ms. Cotillard. She is perfectly cast as Ewa with her beautiful features and sad eyes, it's easy to feel her pain and anguish at the situation forced upon her. It's also easy to see how both Mr. Phoenix and Mr. Renner can fall in love with her.
The story is a bit thin and moves slowly but it's Ms. Cotillard that drives the film and there are small pleasures in many scenes. The closing shot, in particular, is beautifully framed and leaves it's image well beyond the credits.