Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Visitor"

Delicately and delectably written and directed by Tom McCarthy, who wrote a similarly touching human film, "The Station Agent, a few years ago. He crafts this film with great simplicity and tasteful understatement. The cast contains no big names (Richard Jenkins is the biggest, playing a quiet professor; Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira as star-crossed young lovers), and they all deliver touching performances.

It is a story about illegal immigrants (ethnic diversity abounds) who are just people, trying to live life happily: to earn a living, finding an apartment, fall in love and face with cleverness the constant dread (the plot core of this film) of illegal immigration arrest, detention and deportation.

There are no 'heavies' in the film; not even the immigration deportation authorities. As I said, it is a human film. The story tells it like it is: complex, fair and unyielding.

A lovely, poignant film throughout. The ending, however, left me more than a little disappointed (especially in the middle aged love story...which is done with exquisite taste and beauty...between the professor and the young man's widowed mother, an actress I have never seen before, an Israeli actress, Hiam Abass, who plays a Palestinian/Syrian mother and widow living in America. I loved everything about her, and the love story).

The ending was disappointing because I felt McCarthy ran away on purpose from a happy ending (my rule: you should not impose a sad ending on a happy tale no mmore than you should not impose a happy ending on a sad tale. Each story, and the way it unfolds and is enacted by the performers, demands it's own true ending.) "The Visitor" cried out for a 'togetherness' ending.

Other than that little bit of aesthetic/positivist/romantic need of my part, I heartily recommend it. Especially for a lazy, lovely Sunday afternoon.


Blogger Damian said...

One of the best pictures I've seen this year! I loved the fact that there were no big names in it, and therefore you were fully focused on the story! I truly hope that Richard Jenkins doesn't get overlooked by the academy for his performance!!

7:49 PM  
Blogger Cliff Osmond said...


10:12 PM  
Blogger Linda Margaret said...

It was interesting to see that the writer is the same that did "The Station Agent". I like his films, they remind me of French films. Movies about people rather than personas.

10:50 AM  

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