The Visitor (2009)

The Visitor (2009) — The movie ended about an hour ago and I like it more and more the more I think about it.  From There’s Something About Mary to Intolerable Cruelty to Six Feet Under, Richard Jenkins has always been an engaging actor and it’s about damn time he got a lead role.  He nails it.  Absolutely hits it out of the park.  It’s a performance that’s mostly made up of subtleties.  But he’s not alone.  The whole cast is uniformly superb.  Haaz Sleiman plays just about one of the most likable characters I’ve seen in a recent movie and it’s heartbreaking the things that happen to his character.  Danai Gurira does a lot with a little and sells his performance with a more minimalist approach.  Hiam Abbas (who apparently was in Munich although i don’t remember her in it) is the last of the four major characters to be introduced and when she is the movie becomes whole.  Thomas McCarthy (the skeevy lying reporter from the last season of The Wire) wrote and directed this movie and he is an amazing storyteller.  He doesn’t rush the story and lets it play out at a naturalistic pace that never seems too slow.  The movie goes in some ways the way you might expect such a story to go but without ever seeming predictable.  He avoids cliché or an oversentimental approach to tell a moving and engrossing story about loneliness, friendship, and the transcendent power of music.  When the last scene of the movie ended I wanted more but as the power of the final scene sank in I realized that movie starts and ends at the perfect times.  This is a phenomenal film.

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