Idol Chatter

TheVisitorPicIC.jpgThe indie film “The Visitor” has already received high praise from fellow Idol Chatter bloggers this year, but it was difficult to find in theaters. Fortunately, this gentle story of a recently widowed professor who befriends a young Syrian man is now out on DVD. It is arguably one of the best character dramas of the year, and is my pick for the week.

Much like director Thomas McCarthy’s previous effort , “The Station Agent,” this movie unravels slowly and focuses on lonely people in search of an authentic human connection. However’ “The Visitor” raises the stakes by setting the characters against the backdrop of illegal immigration in a post 9/11 world. Two illegal immigrants become intertwined with the life of Walter Vale, a man who hates his job and his life in Connecticut, when Walter finds them living in his New York apartment. The dire circumstances of the drummer Tarek suddenly give Walter purpose and helps him reconnect with his own spirit.
There are so many reasons to savor this film but I appreciate the way the movie weaves Walter’s grief and loss with the collapse of Tarek’s American Dream. I also appreciate the way this movie refuses to wrap up the major plot points in a pretty bow but leaves the fragile lives of these characters in a bit of a mess. No easy answers here, just three lives are forever changed.
Richard-Jenkins at

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