After spending time in jail for “alcoholism,” Humberto (Enrique Araoz) is three years sober and ready to restart his life in Bolivia and win back the people he lost. But it’s not going to be easy, as Humberto has a lot of obstacles to overcome in order to become a better man.
Martin Boulocq’s The Visitor is a film that focuses on the challenges of redemption and regaining trust. Boulocq only gives little hints of what happened and why Humberto wound up in jail. The viewer is then left to fill in the missing pieces, but there are some parts that don’t quite get a concrete resolution.
We hear about Humberto’s past issues with drinking, and how he overcame it. But we don’t know exactly what happened that made him stop drinking. We know that Humberto is estranged from his daughter Aleida (Svet Mena), but we’re not sure what caused their relationship to drift apart. It’s these moments where the viewer feels like the outsider looking in on a story that we’re not entirely sure about. And rather than be quick to judge, we’re left with crafting our own version of the narrative and putting in all the untold moments.
Some may find Boulocq’s approach to storytelling frustrating, as the narrative doesn’t present everything front and center and the pacing is a little slow in some respect. But The Visitor pays off its most patient viewers with a rewarding story, and placing it all together in our heads can create a long conversational topic on the relationship of the characters after it ends.
In order to win his daughter back, Humberto must face his in-laws, Carlos (Cesar Troncoso) and Elizabeth (Mirella Pascual). Both are influential in the local church, with Carlos being a well-respected pastor and Elizabeth being a faith leader. Both are also strict in their ways and have been looking after Aleida during Humberto’s stint in jail. Carlos wants Humberto to prove himself as much as Humberto wants to prove himself. Elizabeth, however, doesn’t want Aleida to be near him.
As we witness Humberto’s drive to improve himself, we become more empathetic and sympathize with the struggles he has to face. He’s able to find steady work singing at the nearby church and also working a side hustle. He keeps pushing himself to improvement and hopes that his in-laws see him for what he has become after jail.
Araoz, a newcomer to the acting world, is terrific as Humberto. He’s able to capture the tiredness of someone willing to better themselves, and how he has to endure a lot in order to get to where he wants to go. It is a fantastic performance.
The Visitor may take some time to get to where it’s going, but the film as a whole is well-crafted and beautiful to look at. Cinematographer German Nocella captures some exquisite shots, many of which are just steady shots of fields and the town in which the movie takes place. There’s a lot to admire here, and those who are able to forgive the ambiguity and somewhat slow pacing are in for a treat.