Saturday, November 14, 2009
The Visitor (2008)
I couldn't figure out when exactly this movie was released: IMDB says 2007, but Richard Jenkins was nominated for the lead acting oscar for the 2008 oscars. Not that it really matters. Richard Jenkins is the real story here, first of all. In, as far as I can tell,his first starring role he hits it out of the park as a man who has basically removed himself and shut himself out of life after the death of his wife. This could easily have been a movie where a man whose life is transformed by music and by the people of different cultures in the sort of way that could easily been mishandled and has been before. This definitely doesn't go for the easy answers in that way-and I think it surprises with how quiet it actually is. You see the joy of meeting new people and gaining new experience after keeping people at arm's way, but you also see people caught up in global systems that they feel absolutely helpless in being able to change anything about the situation of people they have grown to care about. Its the way that Jenkins' Professor Vale after initial confusion, finding people in his NYC apartment, through his interest in music, slowly allows people into his life, and then the pain of having them taken by forces far beyond any of them. Its a tough movie in the end, and it doesn't offer any easy answers certainly, but its good throughout. I enjoyed the little things about it, how Jenkins Professor even when he was becoming comfortable around people finally would still stumble and lash out before realizing what he did. My favorite parts were of the Professor learning how to play drums from Tarek, and the moment when he slowly made his way over to the drumcircle and played outside for the first time. In the end, he seems to end up alone again, but he has still gained that confidence to play outside, and one can only hope that that can sustain him.
Interesting sidenote: Thomas McCarthy who wrote and directed this, and also "The Station Agent", played the journalist in the fifth season of "The Wire" (strange how that keeps coming up) who fabricates the story about the murder of the homeless people. He seems to have also had a hand in writing "Up" as well.
Another weird thing that seems to happen sometimes, RIchard Kind shows up again very briefly in this film. Just two days after I saw him in "A Serious Man".