On the film podcast that I co-host with Jett Loe, we haven’t invested a lot of time in the ongoing conversation discussing smaller, independent-style movies; there’s no agenda there – it just happens that way. But we will be talking about ‘The Visitor’, after I saw it last week. It deserves serious attention.
In keeping with our policy of not discussing the film in advance of the show, I’ll have to keep my deeper opinions to myself for now; but I think I can get away with this: ‘The Visitor’ deserves your time because it is a serious attempt at telling a story about people who feel real, and who encounter real problems and hopes (grief, the possibility of new friendship, the tortuous negotiation of the US immigration system, learning to play the djembe); some people may say that one of the reasons they don’t consider contemporary US ‘indie’ drama to be a source of enthusiasm is that these films are rarely told with visual flair, and in that regard, why not just make them into plays or novels? And I think that is often right. But Tom McCarthy, whose previous film is the utterly beguiling ‘The Station Agent’, knows how to frame human beings talking, and while what’s in the physical image is important, I think that a movie that conveys heart but may lack the photographic nuance of Henri Cartier-Bresson (or Henri Alekan, or Vilmos Zsigmond, or Robert Elswit) might still end up being the most engaging film I’ve seen all year.