If you enjoyed Thomas McCarthy’s beautiful 2003 film, The Station Agent, I certainly would not let his most recent film, The Visitor, slip through the theatres without seeing it first. This film, starring Richard Jenkins, is touching, vocal and ultimately meaningful, providing realistic and believable performances.
This film follows a lifeless professor through the strains of his everyday–a life that we quickly understand no longer has meaning or prowess. As we reluctantly watch him drown in the sorrows of his own repetition, the viewer cannot help but attach themselves to his life, hoping that over the course of the film he will find passion and beauty in something–anything.
Through a real estate mix-up, Walter befriends an immigrant couple who briefly inhabit his apartment along side of him. Though this relationship is appropriately awkward and uncomfortable, Walter’s love for music manifests itself in his new roommate’s African drum and one cannot help but become involved in this unlikely partnership. Partly about music, but more about unjust social policies, this film concentrates its well-spoken commentary on immigration in America. The film is not completely austere however, The Visitor comes complete with a muted taste of humor. Be it sublte and sharp, McCarthy does not take himself too seriously, allowing a wide array of viewers a chance to enjoy it.
Though the story may unfold slowly for some, the film works to come full circle at the end, so if you do lose interest, by the end you will have forgotten why. Aside from the eloquent narrative, it is refreshing to stray from the ever-present college hipster film and move toward a film that focuses on the middle-aged man and his journey through life. The Visitor is beautifully presented with more action than talk and the camera work lends a hint of realism, reasonably appropriate for the theme. The performances are pleasing and though the characters’ motivations sometimes seem to move at the speed of honey, the poignant nature and heart-felt performances really make you believe in what you are watching and may even change any preconcieved notions of immigration policies you may have. This film is expressive and important–definately worth the money to see in the theatre.