Thursday, January 15, 2009

Movie Review: The Visitor (2002)

Title: The Visitor (El Visitante)
Director: Dan Castle
Genre: Short / Drama
Runtime: 30 minutes
Country: Australia
Cast: Nick Carpenter (C. K.), Barry Otto (Michael), Grant Dodwell (Angus)
Language: English

A lot happens in 30 minutes!
An old man's fantasy or an old man's luck?

An aging writer in his late fifties has taken a house near Sydney's Tamarama Beach and is trying to write a novel while trying to put the impending death of an ex lover from his mind. Michael is avoiding phone calls regarding his dear friend and former lover Chris who is dying back in America.

While trying to write, he is disturbed by the noisy surfers next door as they get ready for a weekend away of surf. One of the surfers, remains behind to surf the local beach. Into his life, or more precisely, into his view comes a handsome young surfer name C.K. Although Michael does say hello to him, mainly he just gazes as if C.K. reminds him of someone else from his past. At the beach cafe for lunch with his old friend Angus, Michael again avoids discussing Chris back in America. Angus catches Michael watching C.K. on the beach and teases him but Michael denies any interest in the surfer as the old man encounters him several times during the day.

Left on his own, Michael watches C.K. catch a series of waves. After a big wave and a wipe out, C.K. disappears in the surf. Michael looses site of C.K. until he sees him on the beach taking off his wetsuit before he heads back home. Michael remains on the beach then makes his way home.

Once inside his house, Michael sees C.K. walking towards him on his way to the living room where he makes himself at home. The physically striking surfers he has been admiring from afar, with a beer in his hand and only a towel around his waist. Having the young man splayed on his sofa he is uncertain as to whether he should be afraid or enthralled. What to believe? What to do?

Michael does not know why the surfer is in his house but before the night is over he will discover more about himself than he may have been ready for.

With a ruddy complexion and small round glasses, he peers off into the distance as if he longingly and sadly remembers someone or some incident from his past. The hauntingly beautiful piano music, the lovely cinematography and the impressive sounds of the crashing waves set a melancholy backdrop to Michael's tale.

The short film ends with a nice twist, but the movie is more of a tone poem and would have worked just as well without any surprises at all. This was a thoroughly enjoyable short and the thoughts of the main character was wonderful to read on his face, but I would have enjoyed it more if we had spent more time learning the back story of all of the characters and less time reaching a somewhat hackneyed conclusion. But still, I am shocked and saddened for the ending!

The Visitor Trailer

I'd give 4.5/5.0

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