Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
 

 

DRUMMING UP A MOVIE

 

picture - The VisitorFilm Review

by Kevin Bowen

published June 20, 2008

 

The Visitor

rated PG-13

now playing nationwide

 

The Visitor is not a movie. It’s a book.

 

It’s a book. Made into a movie. For film critics. Who hate movies. And love books.

 

It has the subtlety and depth of a novella, but not the pulse or juice of a film. It does nothing interesting cinematically whatsoever, which makes you wonder what the point of having a camera is. Writer-director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) simply chose the wrong medium for the story. Unfortunately, you have to pay for their mistake by sacrificing your consciousness.

 

A subdued economics professor nears retirement. He must attend a conference in New York, where he still owns an apartment he hasn’t seen in years. When he enters, he finds a pair of squatters –  a young immigrant couple. He’s a musician, playing African drums. She makes and sells bracelets.  After a brief scuffle, he invites the young people to stay in his apartment. He’ll only be there a few days. Soon Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), the young Syrian, teaches the professor, William, to play the drums, taking him to play in the parks of the Big Apple.

 

The blossoming odd couple act between the sixty-ish white guy and the young immigrant Syrian will get you involved. Then the film does the dumbest thing. It takes the one relationship that’s working and breaks it up halfway through. The Syrian goes to jail on immigration charges, and he takes the story with him.

 

His mother soon arrives from Detroit. As they fight to keep her son in the country, the repressed widower warms to her. At which point the filmmakers realize that someone might have to kiss someone else. They treat this potential open display of affection like a Pilgrim court. And you. Poor you. By this point you’re praying for God to grant you just one explosion, just one explosion, please!

 

I will say that the lead performance by Richard Jenkins is interiorized perfection. It keeps the film somewhat watchable. Or at least it keeps you from crawling into a fetal position. But the rest of the film indulges in all of the intelligently unadventurous devices that allow smart people to pat themselves on the back for appreciating. It’s when I watch a film like The Visitor that I wonder if indie people understand this vulgar medium at all.

 

kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
home
film
NYC theater
LA theater
DVD
Contests
interviews
extras
movie posters
links
privacy statement
contact us
site map

 

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THIS PAGE

Follow stageandcinema on Twitter

facebook logo