Do actors make good directors? I’m blowed if I know. Some can certainly do it. So when I was looking up Tom McCarthy, the director of The Visitor, I was pleasantly surprised to see he had lots of acting credits, including several for The Wire. He was also in Syriana. And he wrote and directed The Station Agent. I haven’t seen that, so I’ve nothing to compare The Visitor to. I do know that The Visitor is a beautifully made little film, richly observed and with outstanding performances from the four protagonists. No point going into the plot in detail: dull-seeming economics professor from Connecticut encounters surprises in New York and embraces them, changing his life. Maybe. Richard Jenkins is superb as the professor, but the performance of the film for me was that of Hiam Abbass, as the mother of one of the surprises. The visitor is a small film that deals with big issues, but I never found it preachy. Nor did it have anything resembling a happy ending. Which must be why I had never heard of it.

My rating: 4/4

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