Sunday, June 1, 2008


“THE VISITOR” (Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira & Hiam Abbass)

This is a remarkable ‘little’ film, highlighted by an exquisite performance by veteran ‘supporting’ actor Richard Jenkins; As Connecticut teacher Walter Vale, Jenkins evolves from a man who simply stops caring about his life & work until he discovers a new passion thru an unexpected influence.
It all begins when Walter is sent to a conference in New York to make a presentation on a book he ‘barely’ co-authored (“She wrote it,” he confesses, “I just read it.”)
He discovers a couple living in his ‘seemingly abandoned’ NYC apartment & throws them out. The man, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) is very apologetic, even though he explains how they were the victims of a con artist who scammed the pair by renting the place to them. The woman, Zainab (Danai Gurira) isn’t as understanding – the killer looks she throws at Walter & Tarek plainly tell her feelings toward them both.
We then witness the first moment of ‘caring’ in Walter’s eyes as he has a change of heart & invites the couple to stay in the apartment until they can find other accommodations.
I must warn you this is a very slow moving story – you need to have patience as you get to know these characters and ultimately root for them to succeed; even though they have no one to blame but themselves for their predicament.
The evolution in Walter takes place in small steps & this is the core of the film; his metamorphosis & subsequent guilt over what happens to his ‘friend’ is what keeps this slow moving vehicle chugging along.
When Tarek’s mother, Mouna arrives unannounced from Michigan wondering why she hasn’t heard from her son, Walter’s ‘caring again’ meter takes another jolt. The relationship that grows between Mouna (Hiam Abbass) & Walter is so realistic & touching it deserves to be seen by as many ‘lovers of great acting’ as possible.
When the screen went black at the end, I verbally whined, “Oh no!” Yes, it was a slow moving, character detailed story that seemed rather mundane for the first 15 minutes, yet when it was over, I wanted MORE! After that initial disappointment wore off, I was able to appreciate the final scene – as I imagine would anyone.
See “The Visitor” when you can, & even though it isn’t ‘Oscar’ season & I know it’s a long-shot – I’m predicting a Best Actor nomination for Richard Jenkins. Probably won’t happen, but it should.


Kurt said...

I have been a KJR AM listener going back to 1992, and always remembered your name and I enjoyed your movie reviews. Always surprised at ones you disliked that I liked. But Gasman promoted your blog a while back to tell listeners where you are, so here I am.
I have not seen The Visitor but I will check it out.
Will you be seeing The Love Guru ? I couldn't help thinking he's just being Austin Powers with the shorts jokes towards Vern Troyer. Check. The wink-wink look at the camera. Check. Kind of burned out on Meyers over load with very average work from him as of late.
I'm looking forward to Wanted, Kung Fu Panda ( actually )and M. Night's The Happening, although word of mouth is not good. Not that has ever swayed me in seeing a movie, but he could really use a hit.
Glad I found your blog and I will go through the archives and comment on whatever movie I may have seen that you reviewed.
Glad to see you are still around doing the reviews.

terry r. said...

Hey, Kurt, thanks for using Gas's link to check out my reviews - he's a helluva good friend to do
that! I miss working with him & Groz tremendously - we were the only 3 that were there when Sportsradio was born in Seattle, so we go back a long ways... If you, or any KJR listener who reads this, would like to ask any questions about my 18 years at KJR,
please feel free to do so here...
The pickings will have to be mighty slim for me to go see 'Love Guru', your description of why it looks 'lame' is dead on. I, too am an M. Night fan & 'The Happening', like most of his premises - looks
interesting. Please check back anytime, Kurt, I appreciate you taking the time to read my rambling reviews!

eddie said...

we were lucky enough to see it in seattle. richard jenkins in a career best best performance. an actor who has been good in many things and will be part of the burn after reading ensemble too. sadly, i don't know if he will get a nomination because other more well known actors that are having a career best year like sean penn, frank langella, viggo mortensen, daniel craig, will smith, brad pitt, liam neeson, ralph feinnes, leonardo dicaprio and benicio del toro. tougher year than last.

terry r. said...

Even though it only played in a few theatres, 'The Visitor' hung around for quite awhile - meaning word of mouth was good & it brought in a big enough audience to keep it available. I think its the kind of performance that people will remember & hey, it's better to be out in front of the pact right now because who knows how many of those 'so-called' career performances will turn out to be duds? Last year Tommy Lee Jones was nominated for the very boring 'In The Valley Of Elah'; a rather dull performance in my opinion (Whereas he should have been given recognition for his role in 'No Country For Old Men')
So until I SEE 5 better performances, Richard Jenkins deserves to receive an Oscar nomination for 'The Visitor'.

movie luva said...

Nice call way back when. Richard Jenkins gets a Oscar nomination. I don't have an issue with it in the least. Clint has had plent of accolades the last several years.