Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Visitor

I took my daughters to see The Visitor at The Charles Theater on Saturday night. Of course we had to be creative in getting past all the Artscape traffic and find parking, so we did miss the first few minutes of the film. I am just so glad that we didn't decide to skip it because we were late.

Richard Jenkins plays the main character here. I am not at all familiar with him or any other actor in the film. He was great at playing the ordinary man, the one you would walk past on the street and never think of again.

Last night I was thinking about the title of this movie. I remember when we used to visit people. When I lived or vacationed in upstate New York, it wasn't uncommon or impolite to drop in on people for a visit. Does no one do this anymore? Perhaps not, in a day when we pre-arrange "play dates" for our children instead of just sending them out in the neighborhood to play. I hope to be shot in the head before I ever hear myself making arrangements for a "play date", but I digress. Anyway, my point is that a visit is a short experience in someone else's life. That is what this movie is all about.

Walter is pretty much forced out of his comfort zone when his boss "asks" him to go to New York to present a paper. He goes very reluctantly. It seems like Walter is a basically good, normal guy with nothing to really look forward to but also nothing to complain about. He enters his Manhattan apartment only to find a young couple is renting it and has been for two months. The young couple have no place to go and Walter lets them stay while they find a place to go.

The young man, Tarek, plays an African drum and teaches Walter to play. They are becoming friends and you can see the older man waking from a long, self-induced coma. He is tapping out drumbeats without even thinking about it. He is relaxed and engaged.

I won't tell the rest, but it is wonderful. There are no special effects, no big star names, no standout score, this is just great acting. Everyone in this film is ordinary and beautiful. I loved it and both my daughters did too.

Go see it.

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