1921. An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island.
In the rail yards of Queens, contractors repair and rebuild the city's subway cars. These contracts are lucrative, so graft and corruption are rife. When Leo Handler gets out of prison, he ... See full summary »
1921. In search of a new start and the American dream, Ewa Cybulska and her sister Magda sail to New York from their native Poland. When they reach Ellis Island, doctors discover that Magda is ill, and the two women are separated. Ewa is released onto the mean streets of Manhattan while her sister is quarantined. Alone, with nowhere to turn and desperate to reunite with Magda, she quickly falls prey to Bruno, a charming but wicked man who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. And then one day, Ewa encounters Bruno's cousin, the debonair magician Orlando. He sweeps Ewa off her feet and quickly becomes her only chance to escape the nightmare in which she finds herself.Written by
James Gray told that he was watching Giacomo Puccini's opera 'Il Trittico' [directed by William Friedkin in 2008] and crying, and said to his wife: 'You know, they don't make movies about women anymore, like the old ones with Barbara Stanwyck and Greer Garson.' And she said: 'Why don't you make one?'. So Gray wrote a role for Marion Cotillard similar to Puccini's sin-haunted nun Sister Angelica. Gray also used his own family's history, the movie is also based on the experiences told to the director by his grandparents who were Russian immigrants who came through Ellis Island in 1923. See more »
The famous opera singer Enrico Caruso did sing at Ellis Island, but not in February 1921. Carusos's last performance was in late December 1920, after which his health deteriorated. See more »
[standing in line at Ellis Island speaking Polish]
We're almost there.
The doctors are looking, try to hold it in. You're just nervous. That brings it on. Try to close your ears and say a prayer, to the Mother of God.
We'll find Aunt Edyta soon, and we'll be safe. We'll be together. We'll make our own families, have lots of children.
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A melodrama built upon clichés whose good performances can't save from boredom
There is nothing new or surprising in the story: a poor young immigrant girl who is fresh-off-the-boat taken advantage of, and is sexually exploited by another survivor (just one step above in the food chain ladder) in the golden age of immigration in America.
The acting is good, but the script is quite poor and the direction merely goes through the motions of formal correctness without adding depth, or a true reflection, or a new insight on the matter.
The characters lack in complexity and reality; the revealing of social injustice is more a "homework making" of a formal outrage than a truly insightful exploration of human miseries.
It is an average film with minor hits and major misses which, in my opinion, will not make its way through history, even for easy-to-please audiences as the lovers of Hollywood movies.
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