Astrology: Film: ‘The Immigrant’ (2013)

The Weinstein Company

The Weinstein Company

The song “What I Did for Love” would make a great backdrop as the final credits roll for The Immigrant. Directed by James Gray, the movie describes one woman’s nightmare of becoming a prisoner in New York, the city guarded by Lady Liberty herself.

Directed and co-written by James Gray and set in 1921, the film, with its cinematography as gauzy as an immigrant’s hopes and dreams, immediately sets up its dyad. Pitted against Jupiterian expansion both geographic, educational and philosophical – descriptive of the immigrant experience involving travel to the promised land – is Saturn’s physical contraction, confinement and monetary restriction.

Arriving at Ellis Island are two sisters from Poland –  the soft-spoken and mysteriously ravishing Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and her tubercular sibling Magda (Angela Sarafyan) who gets put into quarantine. Ewa, whose morals on the ship have been suspect, is suddenly in danger of being denied entry and deported. However, a man who’s been watching the proceedings comes to Ewa’s rescue.

The apparent savior is Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix). He greases the palms of an official and whisks Ewa away to his apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. What seems initially like a safe place to rest after her ordeal turns out to be as good as a lair. Turns out Bruno, who runs a sex-centric burlesque emporium featuring women who perform on stage, is also a bona fide pimp with a view towards adding Ewa – desperate for money to liberate and be reunited with Magda – to his entourage.

The Immigrant at first plays like a reflective thriller that asks whether Ewa will ever manage to escape the clutches of Bruno who’s emotionally eruptive in his wanting both to protect and use her for his own monetary gain. At the core, it’s really an archetypal story of family and, specifically, siblings.

Ewa’s physical sacrifices, demanded by and given over to Bruno, are solely on behalf of Magda. And she’s not above stealing from the “sisterhood” of women who are part of his tribe to save her blood relative. The male sibling parallel consists of Bruno and his cousin Emil (Jeremy Renner), a magician who genuinely falls for Ewa and whose life of illusion mirrors the movie’s misty images that signal the ephemeral nature of trust and loyalty.

Siblings, ruled by Mercury which, in turn, rules the astrological sign of Gemini the Twins, represent a doubling that’s a good metaphor for The Immigrant where an external facet invariably hides the rot within.

Astrology Film Rating: ☿ (Mercury)

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