The Visitor (2007)

(On DVD, May 2009) Fans of heavily-plotted genre pieces won’t find much to like at a first glance in this drama about a middle-aged man brooding through a late-life crisis. Nor does the film improve sharply once he discovers intruders in his New York apartment, or when he befriends them just before one is taken prisoner by the US Immigration services. But the film gradually becomes more interesting as our protagonist uncovers the harsh way immigrants can be treated in his country (The Visitor says a lot about the society in which it occurs, unaccountable imprisonment, tortuous immigration processes and all) and comes to reach some kind of fulfillment when he reconnects with life. Richard Jenkins is terrific in the lead role, and the rest of the cast around him also does well. Fans of director Thomas McCarthy’s The Station Agent will here find the same blend of plotlessness, familiarity, tentative relationships and mood pieces. The Visitor ends, frustratingly, in mid-story, but it’s meant to linger in mind like a half-digested meal.

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