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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Visitor


It is not often that I’m totally taken and profoundly touched by an American movie, but then honestly this movie does not look or feel like your regular American cinema independent or not. This is a quiet jewel with amazing performances, excellent cinematography, outstanding pace and tech specs and a director/writer that remarkably managed to convey a hot topic in the USA and do it in a very human and touching way. Truly amazing for American and world cinema standards!

The movie has many positive reviews by American critics and viewers with most praising Richard Jenkins performance and yes, he is impressive as the widowed professor that has totally lost his joie de vivre until an unexpected incident changes everything for him. But I wasn’t expecting to be able to see another amazing and remarkable performance by Hiam Abbass so soon and definitively she has an outstanding screen presence that definitively she has become one of my favorite actresses from now on and thanks to her unforgettable performances in the Syrian Bride (where I met her), Lemon Tree and now The Visitor.

This Thomas McCarthy film tells about the professor going back to his New York City flat after not being there for a long time as he teaches and lives in Connecticut only to find a couple of illegal aliens living at his apartment thanks to a rental scam. He’s sorry for them and allows them to stay until they find an apartment. But Professor Walter Vale never imagined that his kind gesture will give him the opportunity to explosively regain his joie de vivre. But actually the movie deals with the many imprisoned illegal aliens in USA land and the lack of humanity of immigration laws and personnel, a hot topic that here is touched so quietly and subtly that really hits you more than many other movies that brutally have dealt with similar matters. Amazing!

As a movie is superb, one of the best American movies I have seen lately as it is really art cinema because of the outstanding cinematography, excellent framing, a color palette that makes New York City to look outstandingly and follows the mood of whatever is happening in the story –truly remarkable!-, and a pace that is more concern with telling a compelling story than reaching its destination. There is one particular scene that impressed me so much that I wont forget it, is when Hiam Abbass character is standing across the street from the detention facility and she’s exactly standing in the visual line of the corner of the building that is painted in a such a special way that gives an amazing perspective and totally integrates the character into the building! And that’s exactly what the character in that moment wanted to do, get into the building, but she was not able to do it, as she was an illegal alien too. Wow! the scene is visually arresting and emotionally touching.

The movie has been collecting honors and awards in festivals around the world and to mention a few, Richard Jenkins won the Silver George for Best Actor at the 2008 Moscow fest, the Best Actor at the 2008 Method fest and the movie won the Interfaith Award at 2008 Brisbane fest and the Grand Special Prize at the 2008 Deauville fest. Also the movie is nominated for the Best Feature Film at the 2008 Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Definitively a must be seen for serious cinema lovers and mature audiences that want to see an American film, filmed in one of the most filmed American cities and looking and feeling like true art and relevant cinema.

Most of you are familiar with my eclectic taste in movies and know that I do watch American cinema and enjoy it mostly as an escape/entertainment moment, but not very often I’m impressed with the quality of the cinematic experience. Honestly this one of the times that I strongly say Big Chapeau to Thomas McCarthy for creating this fabulous and complete cinematic experience.

Big Enjoy!!!

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