The Driver saw a film recently called The Visitor. It is written and directed by Thomas McCarthy. When a writer/director is a good actor, one of two things happens. One, that person gets a chance to become a dictator and creates/destroys the pictures made. Two, that person adjusts the equation and makes brilliant pictures. Thomas McCarthy is the latter. In this case, he uses his knowledge of acting to write and direct a smooth piece in which he does not act.
The Visitor follows an ordinary professor, living life alone, as he happens upon an immigrant couple living in his rarely visited New York apartment. His encounter and subsequent connections with the couple (a Syrian musician and a jewelry maker from Senegal) bring a spotlight on his true separation from the world around him. As he begins to seek life again through the vibrancy of music, the rules of the world around him jeopardize his new friendship and then introduce the possibility of an even larger life.
This film is smart with rich non-American characters that we don’t find in American films. I happened upon this film not knowing the writer/director also made another Driver favorite called The Station Agent.
What I like about The Visitor is that I feel like I’m a fly on the wall of the lives of the characters. I could just as easily end up in these situations (they’re never out of the realistic realm of possibility,) and would feel the same conflicts. It’s much more vivid when I’m watching it play on screen than I’m sure I would feel if it were my own life. In the end, I feel resolution, but not an end. I like that. It leaves me wanting to write more of the story. Or at least wait for Thomas McCarthy to dream up something else. Whatever writing juice he’s drinking….the Driver wants some too, please.