Author Topic: The Visitor (2007)  (Read 2085 times)

Offline Antares

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The Visitor (2007)
« on: December 04, 2009, 05:57:50 AM »
The Visitor





Year: 2007
Film Studio: Overture Films, Groundswell Productions, Participant Productions
Genre: Drama
Length: 104 Min.

Director
Thomas McCarthy (1966)

Writer
Thomas McCarthy (1966)...Written By

Producer
Omar Amanat
Michael London
Patty Long
Chris Salvaterra
Mary Jane Skalski
Jeff Skoll (1965)
Ricky Strauss
Bergen Swanson
John Woldenberg

Cinematographer
Oliver Bokelberg (1964)

Music
Jan A. P. Kaczmarek (1953)...Composer

Stars
Richard Jenkins (1947) as Prof. Walter Vale
Haaz Sleiman as Tarek Khalil
Danai Jekesai Gurira as Zainab
Hiam Abbass (1960) as Mouna Khalil
Marian Seldes (1928) as Barbara
Maggie Moore as Karen
Michael Cumpsty (1960) as Charles
Bill McHenry as Darin

Review
       Normally, an obscure, independent film such as this would have probably slipped beneath my radar screen, unless I happened to catch it late night on IFC. But many years ago, my wife lived in Providence, R.I., and by chance, lived next door to an unknown, but up and coming actor from the Trinity Repertory Company – Richard Jenkins. So every time she heard about him getting a role in a feature film, there would be no doubt that we would either go to the Cineplex or rent the film when it was released for home video. When she read that The Visitor would be Jenkins’ first leading role, it was a foregone conclusion that we would see this film on the big screen.

       Now if you read the synopsis on the back of the DVD, you’d probably think that this film is a sure fire cure for insomnia. But quite the contrary, it is a deep and rich examination of the parallel environments and misunderstood paranoia’s of the multicultural melting pot that is New York City, post 9/11. Richard Jenkins plays Walter, a middle aged widower whose life has devolved into a somnambular sojourn meandering through his mundane day to day existence. His livelihood, that of a professor of third world economics at a Connecticut college, offers no hope of ever regaining the spark of life he may have one time felt in his youth. But Walter’s passion for living is about to be re-kindled by a chance meeting with two illegal immigrants who have been duped in a real estate scam involving Walter’s apartment in New York City.

       Reluctantly, Walter agrees to speak at a global conference on economics at New York University, the topic being a paper he half-heartedly co-authored with a contemporary in Connecticut. When he enters his seldom used apartment, he stumbles upon Zainab (Danai Gurira), a Senegalese woman who is taking a bath. As the two make eye contact, Zainab starts to scream, perceiving Walter as an intruder. At this point, Zainab’s Syrian boyfriend Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) enters through the front door and confronts Walter. Warding off Tarek’s protective blows, Walter blurts out that it is his apartment, and that they are the unwanted guests. Tarek apologizes and the couple explains how they had paid to sublet the apartment. Realizing that the young couple had been taken advantage of, and had meant no harm, Walter allows them to collect their things and move on. After the couple leaves, Walter is quietly settling in, when he peers out the window and witnesses the couple in a somewhat heated exchange over the incident. A feeling of pity comes over him at evicting them with nowhere to go, and he rushes downstairs to offer them a roof for the night, or at least until they find a place to stay.

       Over the course of the following days, the trio becomes more comfortable with each other and Walter comes to befriend Tarek, who is outwardly, his opposite. Tarek, a musician, plays the Djembe, an African drum shaped like a large goblet, known for its deep bass tones. As Walter watches him practice, he is taken by the unique sound and Tarek offers to teach him to play. Slowly, through music, Walter begins to emerge from the stilted, lifeless existence he’s been leading. One day, he follows Tarek to Central Park, where Tarek performs in an outdoor free form jam with other musicians who share his passion for the unique instrument. Tarek motions to Walter to join the jam session and Walter sheepishly complies. Walter finds himself submerged in a new found musical freedom and the two friends forget that Tarek has promised Zainab to meet her at her sidewalk shop to help her close it down for the day. The two rush down into the subway, hurrying to catch a train to keep to Tarek’s commitment, but are hindered by a malfunctioning subway turnstile. In his haste, Tarek jumps the turnstile and is arrested. Soon, the authorities realize that he is an illegal alien and he is sent to a detention center for deportees.

        The rest of the film now delves into the frustrations and bureaucracy that relatives of illegal immigrants must face in a post 9/11 society, where racism and Patriot Act paranoia fuel the divisions between cultures. Walter, having re-emerged from his torpor state of life, is equally enraged and disgusted in a system that thwarts his every effort to help his new found friend. By the films end, I too felt angry at the blind bureaucracy that led to the inevitable conclusion of the story. The Visitor is a rare commodity in film, a thought provoking drama that on one hand can make you feel optimistic about the possibilities of new cultural friendships, but juxtaposing that optimism with the irrational fear that besets many of our fellow countrymen and purveys society’s modern ideology.


Ratings Criterion
5 Stars - The pinnacle of film perfection and excellence.
4 ½ Stars - Not quite an immortal film, yet a masterpiece in its own right.
4 Stars - Historically important film, considered a classic.
3 ½ Stars - An entertaining film that’s fun or engaging to watch.
3 Stars – A good film that’s worth a Netflix venture.
2 ½ Stars - Borderline viewable.
2 Stars – A bad film that may have a moment of interest.
1 ½ Stars – Insipid, trite and sophomoric, and that's its good points.
1 Star – A film so vacuous, it will suck 2 hours from the remainder of your life.
½ Star - A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 06:49:23 PM by Antares »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: The Visitor (2007)
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2009, 06:04:49 AM »
Congrats ;D

Always great to see a new member writing review :thumbup:

Offline Antares

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Re: The Visitor (2007)
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2009, 06:06:24 AM »
Thanks, it's great to be on a forum where that is appreciated. :cheers:

Offline goodguy

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Re: The Visitor (2007)
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2009, 05:12:06 PM »
Great choice for a first review! It isn't *that* obscure, though; Jenkins got an Oscar nomination for it. Writer/director Thomas McCarty previously made The Station Agent, which I personally liked even better.
Matthias