THE VISITOR

     

 

THE VISITOR (USA)
SHOWING MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2008
7:00 pm Grand Reo Theatre, Vanderhoof
Rated PG, 104 minutes
Director: Thomas McCarthy, Actors: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman,
Danai Jekesai Guirira, Hiam Abbass

The Visitor, a Special Presentation at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival®, is the pitch-perfect sophomore feature from Thomas McCarthy, whose beloved debut, The Station Agent (2003), is a Film Circuit favourite. Here he returns with a beautifully poised and flawlessly acted paean to humanist hope in our ever-darkening age.

Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins, I Heart Huckabees, The Kingdom) is a lonely widower, withdrawn from life and barely contributing professionally to the suburban Connecticut university where he is a professor. When he reluctantly goes into New York City for a conference, he finds an undocumented couple living in his long-vacant Manhattan pied-àterre. He ends up befriending them, especially Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian street musician. But Tarek is profiled by the police at a subway station and incarcerated, becoming subject to imminent deportation. When Tarek’s widowed mother, Mouna (Hiam Abbass), appears, Walter’s connection to this family in distress deepens and his narrowed horizons expand.

McCarthy tells his story with simple, unadorned precision that belies the great visual beauty and narrative care with which the film is assembled. Calm and observant, he leaves much space for his actors. They gradually point the way for us to a place where tolerance becomes active engagement, where the dehumanizing effects of the “War on Terror” become impossible to ignore.

The cast is led by the accomplished Jenkins, known mostly for memorable supporting appearances and his celebrated role on “Six Feet Under”. He is brilliant here, delivering a slow-burn performance that functions both as a great character study and as a metaphor for standoffish, frightened America. The other cast members are uniformly excellent too, particularly the great Palestinian actress Abbass as Mouna. The scenes between Jenkins and Abbass are almost impossibly tender and memorably romantic, due in no small part to this remarkable young director.

Official movie website

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The official website for The Visitor has a link to critic reviews. As you would expect from the movie website, all the reviews are great. But, www.rottentomatoes.com quotes 'The Visitor is a heartfelt, humanistic drama that deftly explores identity, immigration, and other major post-9/11 issues'. The movie there gets a whopping 93% approval rating. Some reviewers however caution that the movie is politically biased. Obviously a must-see movie.

Reviews reviewed for the Reel Review were from these sites:

Rotten Tomatoes Reviews

The Visitor Official Website