Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Visitor: Movie Review

The Visitor: Movie Review

Rating: 6/10
Cast: Richard Jenkins, Hiam Abbass, Haaz Slieman, Danai Gurira
Director: Tom McCarthy
Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) plays a directionless college economics professor, Walter Vale, plodding away in suburban Conneticut in the latest from the team who brought us The Station Agent.
Reluctantly agreeing to stand in for a colleague at a New York City conference, Vale discovers a young couple named Tarek and Zainab have been scammed into illegally renting out his NY flat.
After initially turfing them out, he rescinds when he realizes the pair have nowhere to go.

Tarek warms to Walter and the pair form a friendship which is based in the first place on music.
So much so that Walter accompanies Tarek on one of his many drumming sessions.
However, on returning home, Tarek is stopped by the subway police and arrested under the flimsiest of reasons.
Matters are made worse when it becomes clear Tarek is an illegal immigrant and is taken to a detention centre - Walter is the only one who can visit him during his time inside - and along with Tarek's mother, they struggle to deal with the reality of the immigration system in America.
The Visitor will annoy some who view its take on politics as being somewhat naïve - while no-one's condoning Tarek's treatment in a post 9/11 world, the sad reality of the situation is that he is an illegal immigrant who's had his bid for asylum rejected.
But that would be to easily dismiss the film which has a warmth and heart to it - Richard Jenkins delivers another mesmerizing performance (and makes it easy to understand why this film's been so embraced on the festival circuit)
His aimless widower professor's been teaching the same course for years now, preferring to overwrite the papers each year rather than develop a new course; his passion and awakening (as played out via his djembe drumming) are beautifully realized and a natural progression of his frustration at trying to play the piano.

He's the heart and soul of the film and just about rescues it from mawkish politicking.

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