Notable for its attempt to widen the range of Czech thesp Pavel Liska’s career, "The Visitor" is an enigmatic, over-aestheticized tale experienced through the eyes and ears of a mute lad living on a ramshackle farm in the middle of a forest primeval.

Notable for its attempt to widen the range of Czech thesp Pavel Liska’s career, “The Visitor” is an enigmatic, over-aestheticized tale experienced through the eyes and ears of a mute lad living on a ramshackle farm in the middle of a forest primeval. Drawing too obvious inspiration from Andrei Tarkovsky by way of Andrei Zvyagintsev, Finnish helmer Jukka-Pekka Valkeapaa’s camera invests animate and inanimate objects with such a surfeit of significance that there can be no satisfactory payoff. Boasting very little dialogue (none for the first 20 minutes), this rarefied specialty item seems destined for fests and Euro webs.

The archetypal action unfolds in an unspecified time and place that looks like the 1920s but could be earlier or later. The feral boy (Vitali Bobrov) spies on his lame mother (Emila Ikaheimo), hides found objects and occasionally visits his violent father (Jorma Tommila) in prison. When a mysterious stranger (Liska, dubbed in Finnish but nonetheless a convincing presence) appears with a note from the father and a bullet in his side, mother and son reluctantly take him in. Although it feels derivative of Russian masters, tech work is pro.

The Visitor

Finland-U.K.-Germany-Estonia

Production

A Helsinki Filmi (Finland)/BlueLight (U.K.)/Propellerfilm (Germany)/Exitfilm (Estonia) production, with the support of Finnish Film Foundation, Eurimage, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, ZDF, ARTE, YLE, Nordic Film & TV Fund, Estonian Film Foundation, Estonian Ministry of Culture, the U. of Art and Design Helsinki, Dept. of Film and Television. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Alain de la Mata, Aleksi Bardy. Co-producers, Felix Blum, Arne Ludwig, Christof Bauer, Peeter Urbia, Annell Ahven. Directed by Jukka-Pekka Valkeapaa. Screenplay, Valkeapaa, Jan Forsstrom.

Crew

Camera (color), Tuomo Hutri; editor, Mervi Junkkonen; music, Helena Tulve; production designer, Kaisa Makinen; costume designer, Sari Suominen. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Aug. 31, 2008. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Pavel Liska, Vitali Bobrov, Jorma Tommila, Emila Ikaheimo.
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