Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Visitor

The film The Visitor is a simple and outstanding drama. Nonetheless, it's just too bad that it went almost unnoticed in North America. All in all, some people (like me) may find The Visitor a little bit boring because of its simple storyline that slowly - albeit effectively if you strive to watch the film with a minimum of objectivity - unfolds before your eyes despite all the critical acclaim. Rest assured: it's definitely a movie that I'd recommend to anyone who's looking for some good performance.

We follow Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), a college professor, who is bored by life because he finds it insignificant. One day, he comes to New York to attend to an economic conference. Afterwards, he discovers a couple - who happens to be illegal immigrants - that has taken up residence in his apartment. To his surprise, he befriends with this couple at a point that it will change his life forever. In fact, after Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), the Syrian man from the couple, got arrested in a subway, Walter will do anything to avert his deportation.

Obviously, all that's left for me is to talk about the cast incredible performance. At the first sight, you may think that Richard Jenkins's (Six Feet Under) performance is bland. However, if you look a little bit more carefully, his performance evolves along with the script for our pleasure's sake. Remember that at the beginning, I told you that the script was slow. Well, that slow pace at the beginning is probably there to show us that Walter feels that even though he works for a living, his life is insignificant. Hence, Jenkins' minimalist approach to deal with Walter's boredom and disillusion about life.

Moreover, as Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira, as Zeinab (Tarek's daughter), comes in to brilliantly support Jenkins, things get even better. Slowly but surely, Jenkins depicts Walter's feeling of revival. This means that fighting to avoid Tarek's deportation gives a new sense to his life. Besides, it's because of his subtlety and sometimes his explicit feelings that our interest in Walter's quest is sustained no matter what happens at the end.

Finally, with its few flaws and great qualities, The Visitor is one of those movie you won't forget after you're done with it. To be honest with you, even though the movie bore me a little bit at times (especially at the beginning), I'll say that it's a touching drama about finding a signification to our life by doing something for people we care about. All in all, I haven't seen most of the films that are nominated at the Oscars this year, but I'm sure that The Visitor is a serious competitor, especially in the acting category.

Rating: 4/5

The Visitor
USA (2007)
Length: 104 minutes
Genre: Drama
Director and scriptwriter: Tom McCarthy
Starring: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira and Hiam Abbass

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