Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Visitor

The Visitor came out earlier this year, and was such a great little movie that Richard Jenkins managed to get a SAG nomination for Best Actor. He plays a widowed professor, Walter Dale, who has given up on finding something new to like about his field of work. He heads to NYC to present a paper a colleague wrote, and finds a couple living in his apartment. Tarek and Zainab are illegal immigrants from Syria and Senegal, respectively, and thought they'd legitimately rented an apartment. When Walter arrives they realize the scam and start to leave, but Walter offers them a few days to find something new. Tarek plays the African drum and Zainab makes and sells jewelry. Since Walter doesn't care about anything in his own life, he hangs out with Tarek quite a bit, and Tarek even teaches him to play the drums. While trying to get on the subway with their drums one day, Tarek gets caught and jumps the turnstile to escape, but the police see him jump and arrest him, finding out he's illegally in the U.S. He's sent to a detention center in Queens. Walter gets involved in trying to help Tarek, who is a really good person caught up in a few bad bureaucratic snafus. The director and writer, Thomas McCarthy, also directed The Station Agent, one of the best movies ever. He likes characters who don't mind the silence that many people find uncomfortable. Now with The Visitor, he's examined another character and how he interacts with strangers. Just a terrific film, 4 stars/Lambs


Fletch said...

It's a shame that this will likely be forgotten and left off of many people's top 10 lists. It probably shouldn't be a Best Pic nom, but it's a charming, well-acted, important film that's worth seeing for Jenkins' performance if nothing else.

Jess said...

Yeah, I wanted to see it based on all the positive word of mouth. And unlike most movies that people talk up, this delivers. Quietly, but powerfully. It did get 2 Independent Spirit nominations, so hopefully more people will see it.