Director-Writer: James Gray.
It's difficult to pick a single most-resonant moment or
scene from James Gray's affecting period drama about a young Polish woman who
finds herself under the questionably protective wing of a pimp in early 20th
century New York City - especially when it stars two of the very best actors
around: Marion Cotillard (honored this year by the New York Film Critics
Circle) and Joaquin Phoenix. But despite the highly-detailed (and, as far as we
can tell, accurate) costumes, sets and photography, a piercing stab of magical
realism enters the film, perhaps when Cotillard's character needs it most.
Ellis Island, she witnesses the act of a visiting illusionist, played by Jeremy
Orlando the Magician: "How is it that you found yourself
here at this very moment in America? By boat, most likely, yes - it'd be a long
swim. But isn't it also because you believed
it could happen? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I believe" - at which point he levitates off the ground.
How? Why? We
never find out. But the point of the scene was not Orlando's presumed power of
levitation - rather, his power to draw Cotillard's character into his own charismatic
gravitational pull, into what may be a black hole. – By David Morgan