Who Really Is The Visitor?

Movie fare has been slim pickings so far this year, with nothing to touch my soul until this last Friday when I saw The Visitor. Oh sure, for fun,  I made it to both Sex and the Cityand Raiders. So what? So what is that I was almost lulled into avoiding movies altogether, based on those two. Thank goodness I didn’t stop there. Don’t you stop either, go see The Visitor.

In spite of its apparently simple premise, is a big film, rich in layers of meaning-starting with the title, who is the visitor?

Like a lovely wine, this is a film whre every rich scene can be savored. From the producer of Sideways, starring superb character actor Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) and four other perfectly cast performers, it is both intimate and sweeping

The story line follows an emotionally dead economics professor who finds his soul in a Syrian drummer and his Senegalese girlfriend during a business trip to New York. You see, the couple “rented” his apartment. Only he didn’t know anything about it and stumbles in on them. Part of the film’s magic is that it is both humorous and poignant.

The story takes on a deeper meaning when the happy, optimistic Tariq, drummer and film’s heartbeat, is accidentally arrested. Days after watching it, it lingers in my thoughts and inspired me to learn more about filmmaker  Tom McCarthy. One of my favorite scenes happens on the Staten Island Ferry where Tariq’s girlfriend describes the simple joy and pleasures of life. See what you think….After poking around on the film’s website, I also joined a site called  TakePart.

I once dated a young lawyer who, at the time was a leader in immigration law, working largely with Latin American immigrants. Pre-9-11. I learned a lot then about the black hole of US immigration. Although beyond the scope of this blog posting, it is relevant to remember that a significant portion of our current economy’s success has been due to the constantly refreshed labor supply of immigration both legal and illegal to this country. We often forget that what drives our economy is consumer spending. Neither Tide nor Tampax care about citizen status.

What does a movie have to do with leadership? Leaders are learners. Leaders nourish their souls with quality food. The Visitor is just that. Entertaining and enlightening. Go visit it.

Tell me what you think of this movie, and then tell me how many ways the metaphor of “visitor” is used in this film? How many “visitors” are there?

PS Thinking about Sex and the City, it’s fun to compare it to another famous sitcom about the sexes based in NYC,  I Love Lucy. For example, I wonder if Carrie et all’s sexual outpourings will carry equally enduring cross-generational legs as Lucy and Ethel’s sexual jousting with Ricky and Fred? ….Both icons of style and fashion for their day and time, it will be interesting to see how future generations judge them.