Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Connection is Everything

In 2003 I saw writer/director Thomas McCarthy’s “The Station Agent” and thought it was an absolute gem. All the elements were right on the mark – the story, the acting, and the direction – earning “The Station Agent” a spot on my top-ten list for that year.

McCarthy has done it once again, even better, with his latest film “The Visitor.”

It’s the story of widowed college professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) who reluctantly travels into New York City to present a paper at a conference and discovers a young couple living in his apartment. He allows the couple, Syrian Tarek Khalil and Senegalese Zainab (Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira), to stay until they find another place to live. A friendship develops which forces Vale to step out of his comfort zone and to feel, to live again. Along the way he deals with identity, illegal immigrants, 9/11, and that special connection you share with someone even if it’s only for a short time.

McCarthy wisely employs non-Hollywood celebrities/stars and focuses on the story and the characters. Jenkins is perfectly cast as Vale, giving a nuanced performance that’s award worthy. The same goes for Sleimen who absolutely shines as Tarek.

“The Visitor” is one of those films that will have you thinking about it long after the credits roll.

I highly recommend this film with thumbs way up, five stars out of five, and a bushel of fresh tomatoes.

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