We saw a terrific movie this week, which you won't want to miss: "The Visitor," written and directed by Thomas McCarthy. McCarthy directed another favourite movie of mine, "The Station Agent".
The Visitor is both a personal and a political story, and the two are seamlessly woven together. As someone who is always trying to do that in my own writing, I can tell you it's incredibly difficult, and seldom achieved as well as McCarthy did here.
The movie is about people coming out of their own isolation and pain by reaching out to others, by feeling responsible to the people around them. Loneliness is broken by making connections deeper than the appearances that divide us, and music is a road on which those connections travel. The movie is also about immigration, detention and deportation, and what those words mean in human terms.
Excellent acting, excellent writing, poignant and sad, but hopeful and uplifting. Don't miss it.
Update: Another reason I loved this movie, which I forgot to mention earlier. It's a great New York City movie. None of this filmed-in-Toronto-fake-New-York stuff here. It made me a little homesick, which means it was the real deal.
* * * *
Quick wrap-up of Movie Season so far, in reverse order:
Reservation Road: Good, not great. Good concept and some decent writing, but once the premise was played out, there was nowhere to go.
The Visitor: Excellent, a must-see.
Persepolis: Excellent. Another personal and political story.
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead: Very good, very suspenseful, another amazing performance by the ubiquitous PSH. (Those of us who watch independent films have been tracking his career with amazement for a long, long time.)
Who Killed the Electric Car?: Not stellar in documentary terms, but a real eye-opener, full of important information and worth seeing.
Charlie Wilson's War: Very good. Some interesting insights into how foreign policy is and is not made.
There Will Be Blood: Hated it. Even Daniel Day-Lewis's typically excellent performance wasn't enough to make up for this mess of a movie.
Dan in Real Life: Nice romantic comedy, entertaining, and some really nice acting. I like good romantic comedies, but seldom find them.
I'm Not There: Terrible. Once you get over the concept (various people playing Bob Dylan, including a black child and a woman), it's a bunch of long-disproved Dylan myths and cliches strung together.
Run, Fat Boy, Run: Loved it. Funny and sweet without being cloying. I imagine Simon Pegg will make a bad movie one day, but he hasn't done it yet.
On deck: When the Levees Broke. Kind of crazy that we haven't seen this yet, I know.