Thursday, January 29, 2009

1/27/09: The Visitor (2008)

Writer-director Thomas McCarthy crafted this extraordinary picture about a professor whose life intersects with a pair of illegal immigrants in New York City. Richard Jenkins (the dad from Six Feet Under) won a Best Actor nomination for his role as Walter Vale, an aging teacher who learns, in a few short weeks, a great deal about friendship, loyalty, love, and how to play djembe drums. Israeli actress Hiam Abbass shows up at the halfway point to make it a four-character drama that examines, among other things, the nature of xenophobia, the power of human kindness and the devastation of loss and regret. There are unexpected moments of humor sprinkled throughout in McCarthy's rich script, and the cast (especially Abbass) does a remarkable job. Very deeply felt, by which I mean I had tears in my eyes during a couple of scenes. As Oscar week and the first month of my year-long movie marathon draw to a close, I am left hoping there are many more movies as good as this one on the horizon. Rating: 5/5.

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