Visitor, The

Featured In Issue 136, November 2008

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Anchor Bay Entertainment
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Brief strong language.
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Tom McCarthy
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Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM 24/48 5.1
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Walter (Jenkins) has been teaching the same economics course at a Connecticut college for the past 20 years. After the death of his wife, Walter slowly becomes numb to the joys of both his professional and personal lives. When he is called to New York to speak on an economics paper he co-authored, Walter decides to stay at his long-vacant apartment in the city he used to share with his wife. To Walter's surprise his apartment has two new tennants—Tarek (Sleiman) and Zainab (Gurira), two illegal immigrants who have "rented" the apartment from a friend. Instead of calling the police or evicting The Visitors, the mild-mannered professor invites them to stay at his apartment—accepting drum lessons from Tarek in return for their rent. (Stacey Pendry)

Special features include a commentary track by Director Tom McCarthy and Actor Richard Jenkins, the five-minute An Inside Look At The Visitor and eight-minute Playing the Djembe featurettes, four deleted scenes with an optional commentary track, and the original trailer.

While the black levels are consistently deep throughout, the near-black information is crushed in the anamorphically enhanced 1.81:1 DVD. The result is a flat-looking image that is further exacerbated by its digitally harsh appearance. Heavy compression artifacts (and low average bit rates) are the likely culprits here. Resolution is good, though, with fine details captured well, but there are many scenes that are uncharacteristically soft. The color scheme is generally limited to warm hues and browns, with few bright reds and blues. Colors are also desaturated, giving the picture a sordid appearance that matches the story's mood well. Fleshtones are very cool. Edge enhancement is relatively minor and not overly distracting, but it's noticeable over high-contrast transitions. The H.264 AVC-encoded Blu-ray Disc shows good resolution, with fine details, like the patterns in clothing and facial featurew, translated well. Colors seem to be more naturally saturated as well, with an accurate rendering of fleshtones. Contrast is balanced well, and while black levels aren't deep, shadow delineation is good. (Danny Richelieu)

The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack incorporates a very basic mix, with very little phantom imaging anywhere around the room and a dominating center channel. The front stage is mixed well at times, but the high relative levels of the center channel can mask that aspect. Fidelity is pure, with very good articulation in the midrange and natural-sounding voices. There is a subtle substratum of background noise, but it is rarely a distraction. There is a decent sense of depth in the front stage, and the surround channels can be used effectively at times, but generally the soundtrack is dimensionless. Dynamic range is constrained, but dynamics obviously weren't a large part of the sound design. The Blu-ray Disc's uncompressed linear PCM encoding sounds smooth and natural, with good articulation and fidelity. The front stage is nicely rendered, but the limited use of surrounds gives the soundtrack a one-dimensional feel. Dynamic range is limited still. (Danny Richelieu)