Director: Tom McCarthy
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
A Sketch Rather Than A Script, April 1, 2010
Supposedly THE VISITOR represents
a new genre of American film, a less bombastic, technically leaned down movie.
If that means employing a very sketchy script, than it certainly applies here.
You've got traumatic events happening bang, bang, bang--but not only does it seem unreal, nobody reacts to them--or when they do react it seems to be either a question of too little, too late; reactions contrary to the character of the person involved, or just downright unbelievable. The situations the characters find themselves in seem equally contrived. In such a format you'd better have strong characterization, or you're in trouble. THE VISITOR is in trouble from the onset and drags on to a less than satisfying--and contrived conclusion.
"Understated," is one thing, but tiring or lacking substance is another.
I liked the potential of the story, liked the actors (REALLY liked Hiam Abbass who played the mother) and enjoyed certain fragments of story line, like when the mother asks the professor about the academic book he is writing and he snaps back to the effect that only other writers would understand his creative process--but here again, he immediately corrects himself. He corrects himself too quickly, I felt. It was his uppity touchiness that I found believable. I know "educated artists" like that. More could have been done with this flash of realism, but it is quickly brushed aside.
I write I like Hiam Abbass because, quite frankly, I found her very attractive physically. She's middle-aged and still very lovely, and must have really been a knockout 20 years ago. I suppose this is sexist, but I'm going for the most positive here.
Unfortunately, I just don't believe most of the movie, it may have been more effective had it been made for television. Nonetheless, it's worth watching if for the little peek behind the facade of Homeland Security.