Thursday, April 5, 2012
Rob recommends "The Visitor"
After I finished watching "The Visitor" and after a thoughtful discussion with my family, I began to imagine the same plot in the hands of another director. This didn't have to be a great movie...
Richard Jenkins plays a middle-aged college professor who's lost his wife and with her death, his spirit. He arrives at his seldom-used apartment in Manhattan to find an immigrant couple living there without his knowledge (victimized by a scam-artist). He ends up letting them stay. That touch of compassion sets in motion a reawakening of his own humanity and slowly, his zest for life. Tarek, the man of the couple, is a Syrian drummer who is as open and friendly as Walter (Jenkins) is shut down. The two bond and Tarek teaches Walter to play the African drums. Trouble strikes when Tarek is swallowed up by the immigration authorities.
I couldn't help but think about the many ways another director might have overplayed it: casting a flashier Walter, zeroing in on his transformation (rather than allowing the changes to seep in more believably), hard-selling the message about illegal immigrants, in general going for the cliche instead of nuance, easy sentiment instead subtlety.