Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Drama The Visitor (2007)

The Visitor (2007)

Director/writer Thomas McCarthy succeeds amazingly well in this highly poignant and sensitive portrayal of a story about a man resigned to the laurels of his own confining success in the compressing world of academia who is given a rare chance to explore new realms. In touching upon the tyrannical excesses of Homeland Security measures and how they have brought about a rapid decline in freedoms for us all, as well as, in this case, tearing families apart, Mr. McCarthy goes that extra mile to produce a movie with its own grandeur.

It is no small irony that Professor Walter Vale, played by the marvelously casted Richard Jenkins, is a respected global economist, someone helping to prepare a world already dubiously suspect for its curtailment of personal freedoms. The death of his wife and his remoteness from others (so often a trademark of the ivory towered tenured) have left him little in the way of personal relationship. Drying up emotionally, his situation is about to drastically change.

Although such a scenario has been appreciated in other such films, this one is premier in providing just about as credible a context for its situation as can be imagined. Fastening on the one human yearning the professor retains, to acquire a connection to his dead wife through learning to play the piano, a special affinity to the immigrant, Tarek Khalil, credibly comes about as he discovers an instrument he is far more suited to master…one that becomes an almost portal into the lives of others. Another triumph in casting is exampled in the beautiful performance of Haaz Sleiman in this role.

The detainment of Tarek and his imprisonment in a privately managed “storage facility” (with all its ominous overtones) draws professor Vale into a closer drama with both the young man’s lover, Zainab (played by the lovely, Danai Gurira; and his mother, Mouna (played by the striking, Hiam Abbass.) Again, inspired casting.

What comes about from here on in denouement is what is true so often in life, hardly the Mary Poppins ending so many might prefer, making this movie even more significant on a higher plane. What reveals itself to us of precious value is not always, sadly, ours to keep. Yet the ending has the facets, which as this reviewer has remarked of the film itself, reflecting best on its grandeur.

Highly, highly recommended. To every living, breathing, thought inspired critter.

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