The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Anchor Bay - 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 104 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English uncompressed 5.1 PCM, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Richard Jenkins, Hiam Abbass, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira
Written &Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Music by: Jan A. P. Kaczmarek
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 7, 2008
"Connection is everything"
The Visitor stars Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) as Walter, a disaffected college professor who has been drifting aimlessly through his life. When, in a chance encounter on a trip into New York, Walter discovers a couple has taken up residence in his apartment in the city, he develops an unexpected and profound connection to them that will change his life forever. As challenges arise for his tenants, Walter finds himself compelled to help his new friends, and rediscovers a passion he thought he had lost long ago.
Richard Jenkins is a great character actor whose has been in dozens of films. His face more so than his name is probably familiar to most who enjoy movies. I have never seen him in a leading role and have grown accustomed to seeing him in small but usually central parts. In The visitor we get a chance to see him in a dramatic film that centers around his character Professor Walter Vale. Walter is not a very complex individual but he is someone who has lost touch with his feelings. He is a professor at a university in Connecticut who has written three books about economics (and is working on a fourth) and is a widower. His wife was a concert pianist who released at least one CD. He has reduced his class schedule down to one so he can spend more time working on his latest book. It is clear right from the film's opening scene that Walter is searching for something to put meaning back into his wife. He has been taking piano lessons but has gone through a total of 5 teachers and really doesn't seem to have the aptitude for it. He maintains an apartment in NY City but doesn't go there very often. He doesn't seem to do much of anything and isn't inclined to. He is sent to NY City to lecture on a story that he co-authored and comes to his apartment to find that a couple has been living there (illegally sublet to them) for the last two months. Once he convinces them that the apartment is his they pack up their belongings and leave. He finds a picture they left behind and finds them standing on the street corner a few blocks away. He invites them to stay in the apartment with him until they find another place. Tarek (Sleiman) is a young man who makes a meager living by playing the djembe which is an African had drum that is shaped like a goblet. His girlfriend Zainab (Gurira) sells handmade jewelry at a street market. Walter and Tarek strike up a friendship after Walter expresses an interest in learning how to play the Djembe. Tarek begins giving Walter lessons and soon after convinces him to come and play along with himself and other Djembe players at the park.
After leaving the park Walter and Tarek go into the subway where Tarek is stopped and arrested by the Police after he is suspected of jumping a turnstile. Walter then finds out that both Tarek and Zainab are illegal aliens. Tarek is placed in a local secure facility where proceedings are begun to have him deported. Tarek's mother Mouna (Abbass) comes to the apartment looking for Tarek after not being able to reach him by cell phone. Mouna is also an illegal alien and can't go to the facility to see Tarek. Walter contacts an attorney in the hope of helping Tarek who he has come to think of as his friend. Zainab moved after Tarek's arrest and is staying with her cousin in Brooklyn. Walter convinces Mouna to stay at the apartment pending the outcome of Tarek's situation. There is an unspoken attraction that develops between Mouna and Walter. Walter continues to play the djembe and finds that he has a passion for it that has reignited his creative side. The story's culmination results in everyone having to face trying circumstances that leaves Walter at a crossroads. He can either return to the life he had or begin life anew.
This was an interesting film. I would imagine that all of us know someone like Walter. I could see where it would be easy for a guy in his situation to fall into the rut that he did. This movie points out that life can be full of surprises. He found friendship and inspiration from people who he literally had nothing in common with. It took their plight to rejuvenate his interest in the human spirit which included romance, helping others, and the personal satisfaction that comes from devotion to a craft like playing the Djembe.
The rating is for brief strong language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Visitor comes to Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless uncompressed PCM 5.1 channel audio that has a constant bitrate of 6.9 mbps.
This is nice looking video presentation that features colors that are naturally pleasing with a conservative palette and bland textures. Skin tones are well delineated with tonal warmth and fairly lifelike quality. Images were rendered with good high definition detail, two dimensional quality and above average depth. Sharpness was inconsistent here and there but never to a point where it became bothersome. Audio quality was fine for the source material and clearly delivered dialogue, music and sounds across the front three channels. There was no discrete surround activity and only limited ambient sounds through the rear channels. This film relied on dialogue almost exclusively so this didn't pose a problem.
The bonus content consists of two short features, director's commentary, a few deleted scenes, and the theatrical trailer. The inside look was brief at just 4 minutes and really didn't offer much information about the production and touched on the story, cast, and characters. The 7 minute piece on the Djembe was mildly interesting and contained more cast interviews than the inside look feature. The deleted scenes didn't add anything to the story and were appropriately cut. The audio commentary was the best of the bunch and worth checking out if you liked the film.
- Audio commentary with Director/Writer Tom McCarthy
- Playing the Djembe - featurette
- An inside look at The Visitor featurette
- 4 deleted scenes with optional commentary featuring Actor Richard Jenkins and Director Tom McCarthy
- Theatrical trailer
The Visitor is a good film. It is a story about people and how one man took a chance by following his instincts and opened up to a young couple which ultimately changed his life. It comes to Blu-ray high definition from Anchor Bay day and date with DVD and features good audio/video quality with average bonus supplements. It is easily worth the cost of a rental.
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