The Visitors – Dir. Thomas McCarthy (Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Hiam Abbass)

visitor.jpgThe first great film of the year is a small, and likely already out of the theaters, treasure written and directed by the genius behind 2004’s brilliant “The Station Agent.” Like its predecessor, “The Visitor” is a story about a journey from loneliness back into the real world of the living. In this case a recently widowed, middle aged professor, stuck somewhere between deep professional apathy and outright depression, is given a totally unexpected shot in the arm. Summoned to NYC to present a paper to his colleagues, Walter Vale played brilliantly by Richard Jenkins from “Six Feet Under,” returns to his largely abandoned NY apartment after years away only to find two illegal aliens living inside. But after an awkward initial meeting, Jenkins begins to really gel with the young free spirited drummer from Syria, who, in the gentlest of ways reintroduces him to the simple pleasures of life. Ultimately the flim becomes more complicated exposing us to the inherent hypocracy of our immigration policy in a post 9/11 world. From the incredibly nuanced portrayal of lasting and fleeting love, to the broader issue of finding joy in life, this movie is a gem that pushes buttons but never tugs too hard. The truth is told in a quiet convincing tone but with a beautifully understated cast. This is a deep diamond in the rough.  

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