Sometimes you start watching a movie and you are instantly transported to another time, another place, and you just know that the film is doing its job. You’re invested. Other times, you put on a film and you’re brought to another time and place in relation to your own life. You’re given this nostalgic feeling that coats the way you embrace the film. It touches you because it causes you to remember fonder times. Still, other times, you put on a film and it transports you to another time and place with regard to cinema itself. It recalls a past era of filmmaking, a time when films were crafted differently.
‘The Immigrant’ kind of does all three of those things.
For me, ‘The Immigrant’ reminds me very much of a period film made in the 80’s. There is this overcoat of steamy, almost palpable sensuality that reminds me a lot of the soap operatic tones of many 80’s films. It isn’t theatrical, but then again most of those films weren’t either. They were suppressed in a way, and yet they exuded this cinematic sweat, if you can call it that. The cinematography, use of light and color (all that yellow and orange) also call to mind the 80’s. There is a musky vibrancy, an almost muted light that actually glistens on every frame. There is no denying that the film takes place in the 20’s, for the world, that time, is captured with such authenticity, and yet the filmmaking feels like an homage to a much later time, when filmmaking was beginning to shift.
Growing up in the 80’s, early 90’s, I found myself recalling those night, nestled on the couch with my older sisters, as we secretly took in all those films my parents deemed too heavy for us. I felt myself overcome by that warmth, that nostalgia.