The Visitors Film Details
Overview: Bill, Martha and their little child Hal are spending a quiet winter Sunday in their house when they get an unexpected visit from Mike Nickerson and Tony Rodriguez.
Tagline: Every one wants to turn his back on violence until it knocks at his front door.
Review: Elia Kazan’s last great work comes from an original script by his son Chris (his only screenplay), which is inspired by a 1969 article from The New Yorker Magazine. The article’s real story was filmed by Brian De Palma’s underrated work “Casualties of War”; Kazan’s film is an ‘what if…’ kind of situation where viewers could see it as a real sequel to De Palma’s film. Both are outstanding films, with high caliber performances and plenty of drama and tension, uncomfortable moments and filled with thought-provoking themes. The very first serious fictional film about the Vietnam conflict (step aside “The Deer Hunter”), the film isn’t necessarily about the war but mostly about the players at a war, and the ever changing rules of the game whose outcome isn’t necessarily good. Here, war seems a distant fog that somehow always finds its way to get deeper in the memories of all the five major characters from the film. Martha and Bill (Patricia Joyce and James Woods) are a nice couple, they have a baby, and they’re quietly living in this small farm estate owned by her father (Patrick McVey), a war veteran from another era who now writes novels. A simple day in their lives, Bill goes out for something and when he returns, his wife tells him that two of his army buddies were there for a visit. They’re played by Steve Railsback and Chico Martínez. By this part of this story, if you’re not into reading plots you can only imagine that something was really wrong between those friends during their time in Vietnam, the tension cuts the air like a sharp sword and those two caustic visitors aren’t there for a friendly visit. They will disturb the family’s apparent peace and quiet. Brilliantly, “The Visitors” avoids taking the usual route of turning into a horrific thriller, instead focusing on minor disturbances that permeates very quietly. Before that, we have the opportunity to see Sgt. Nickerson and Rodrigues trying to establish contacts with the couple; later on going to lady’s father house – and the man adores them practically since they can exchange war experiences; then we gradually understand that Woods character is deeply concerned about their visit. Most I can tell, so you can enjoy the film, is exactly the view Martha gets from Bill about what happened in Vietnam and revolved around a court martial – but if you’re familiar with “Casualties of War” you know the real deal. With a pulsating twisting nerve, “The Visitors” is an intense film that deepens the wounds a nation weren’t yet ready to get exposed, except in news media, when it comes to not only the already exhausted Vietnam conflict but also the reality of the veterans coming back home to not find much prospect of a new life. It’s not like both Kazan’s movie is a highly political film but the themes are there. Anguish, revenge, shock of different values and the effects of a war, it’s all present in great dialogues, strong unforgettable moments. Woods and Railsback deliver knockout performances, with the latter carrying an intense gaze, lack of words but menacing effect – which he used to play many other intense characters later in his career; and the former playing a vulnerable type whose expressions are getting more and more worried, unlike anything he has ever done. With the exception of McVey, all the four main actors are making their film debut in this picture and they were all great. My problems with the film is some settings that look implausible or fail to convince much; the guitar song that seems to announce the most awaited third act, it just doesn’t work. This was a serious candidate in becoming a perfect classic of the 1970’s, an era with many realistic inputs and conventions, almost similar to the Dogma movement of the 1990’s with some films making use of music from original sources in the background, no new composition – in fact, it’s classic songs that Kazan used as a background without no indication of let’s say music playing on a stereo – which also happens later on with great pieces and to a spectacular tense effect. But when he introduces the guitar theme it just puts you off from the effect of seeing a more realistic piece of filmmaking, almost like an exciting play – and I wonder how come there’s no play version of this? But Kazan succeeds in making a more intimate film, very independently, modest and somber. And through everything presented, we wonder what the future will bring to those characters?
Duration: 88 min
Genre: Crime, Drama
Also known as: Besökarna,Os Visitantes,Die Besucher,Vizitatorii,The Visitors,Los visitantes,Посетителите,Гости,Οι επισκέπτες,Ubedte gjester,A látogatók,I visitatori,Dosli su nocu,Les visiteurs,Totsuzen no houmonsha,Oi episkeptes,突然の訪問者,Ubudne gæster,Goście