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A college professor travels to New York City to attend a conference and finds a young couple living in his apartment.
OSCAR Nomination for Best ACTOR - Richard Jenkins
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The Visitor will forever be known as the Richard Jenkins Oscar nominated movie. Because of that one small acknowledgment, this film will be seen by a million plus more viewers, including myself. My job mainly is to watch mainstream films that get marketed to the masses. Rarely do I watch a movie like this, but I'm sure glad I did.
This is one of those films that stops you from being jaded by this industry. Without sounding too cliche, this is the type of movie that "they" should to making more of. It's a movie that's about real people reacting to real situations without any over the top dramatic way they do in Hollywood films.
I'm not saying that Hollywood films don't have their place as they do. But films like The Visitor have their place too and really should be seen by a lot more people than it does. It's all about marketing though and this movie won't get any 25 million dollar campaign and/or have a million Myspace friends in its group. Only Jenkins nomination pulls it to the mainstream for that brief period.
Perhaps many people won't even like this film either. It's slow moving and the performances alone tell us the dramatic situations that take place. There is no big speech or musical montage to show the main character's progress. It's all about the looks and whether the characters decide to do something or not in those small moments in life.
Life is all about making choices. And usually it's the choices we don't make that dictates who we are. Richard Jenkins plays your typical University Professor/part time book writer. He's a guy who's life has brought him to a pretty standstill existence. We learn that his wife has passed away and in a random conversation with someone we also learn that he has a son who lives in London. He's an intelligent guy who is alone and these are the types of people who setup routine in their life to numb themselves so they don't have to feel how lonely they are.
The only glimmer of a real existence of a life for our professor is music. His wife apparently was a terrific piano player and he's currently trying to learn the instrument so he can perhaps get a bit of his wife back.
The plot of The Visitor deals with our professor going to a convention in New York and coming back to the apartment he and his wife shared part-time in the city. He then finds a young couple living there without his knowledge. The story begins.....
The Professor forms a nice bond with the young man who was living in his apartment as he learns that drums and not the piano is his instrument of choice. Through music we get to know the professor and he also builds a confidence in himself to begin to have a life again. They say that we all have that animal that we should have as a pet/caretaker and they should also say they we all have that instrument that is ours to play and express.
Expression is the theme of The Visitor. The irony being that the professor isn't much for expression. He reminded me of my father: a man so full of emotions inside of himself but programmed and/or conditioned to not express it. But those emotions that we all have need to come out and we all have many ways to do it. In The Visitor our professor after many years is finally able to do it through drum playing.
But there is a cost to that self-discovery. And that's the plot of The Visitor.
This is one of those films that you really root for our main character because he is so much like many of us. Perhaps too much. And that might turn people off from seeing it. Movies to a lot of people is not about personal therapy or discovery but about escape -- especially in this recession era.
I learned a lot by watching The Visitor. Less is more and better and a passive main character works if done right and performed by the right acter. So cheers to Mr. Jenkins. I hope this roles leads to other great roles for him.