Wednesday, 4 June 2008

The Visitor - movie review

Tom McCarthy's The Visitor is a gem, a tribute to the power of understatement. It is the story of Walter Vale, a professor who has withdrawn from life to the point of being almost catatonic. When he finds his seldom-used New York City apartment inhaibited by a young immigrant couple, victims of a con artist who rented it out to them, he takes pity on them and allows them to stay. The young man, Tarek, is everything Walter is not: vibrant, passionate, full of enthusiasm and energy. They connect through their love of music and Walter is, bit by bit, drawn back into life. And then disaster strikes.

Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman
This is a subtle and immensely moving story, told with restraint and dignity. Even the simplest of gestures resonates. Actors Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Hiam Abbass, and Danai Gurira never strike a false note, conveying powerful emotions without sliding into melodrama. The social commentary of the last part of the story is obvious, but it doesn't run away with the movie, leaving it primarily a story about the characters.

If Hollywood could make a habit of producing movies of this quality, I would be in movie theatres more often. I will probably buy the DVD when it comes out, as this is a film I will be happy to see many times.

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