Home > Reviews > THE VISITOR – Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

THE VISITOR – Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

Original Review by Clark Douglas

If you missed “The Visitor”, I strongly suggest giving it a look. It’s a very fine independent drama starring the wonderful Richard Jenkins, who gives one of the finer performances of his increasingly compelling career. The film also receives a score from Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, who won an Oscar for his pretty “Finding Neverland” score. The win didn’t appear to do Kaczmarek any favors, as he hasn’t exactly received many high-profile scoring assignments. While I don’t think Kaczmarek deserved an Oscar win in the first place, he’s certainly a talented composer who typically provides very pleasant albums of music. For “The Visitor”, Kaczmarek provides a low-key chamber music score that is sentimental without ever getting too soppy. His “The Visitor Overture” is an attractive highlight, a gentle piece performed by piano and a string quartet. The music maintains a similar vibe throughout the early portion of the album, successfully playing with ideas introduced in the overture and occasionally touching on new ones.

As the score progresses, a new musical element begins to enter the picture. Beginning with “Trip to the Detention Center”, drums enter the picture. This is partially because Jenkins’ character is beginning to learn to play the drums, but the drums also represent a turning point in the character’s life. Kaczmarek handles the transition with subtlety, though the drums-only musical climax to this journey is (perhaps appropriately) left in the film.

Fans of “Finding Neverland” will undoubtedly be pleased by Kaczmarek’s solo piano etudes here, which are quite lovely. The album concludes with an eclectic song from Fela Anikulapo Kuti, “Je’nwi Teni (Don’t Gag Me)”, which is interesting but certainly clashes quite a bit with everything else on the album. Though “The Visitor” is a bit less overtly melodic than “Finding Neverland”, I feel that it’s a rather mature and thoughtful effort that deserves to be discovered. Recommended.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • The Visitor Overture (5:04)
  • Walter’s Etude No.1 (2:20)
  • Walter the Professor (1:24)
  • Walter Drives Through New York (2:28)
  • Meeting Mouna (3:48)
  • Trip to the Detention Center (3:13)
  • Tarek Arrested (1:44)
  • Walter Plays Half of His Etude No.1 (Piano Solo) (2:30)
  • Evening With Mouna (2:25)
  • Waiting for Tarek (1:11)
  • Looking at the Liberty Statue (1:25)
  • The Loneliness (1:45)
  • The System Says NO (3:14)
  • Walter and Mouna Together (5:18)
  • Walter Feels Alive Again (2:39)
  • Back to the Detention Center (2:17)
  • Walter Plays Etude No. 2 With Almost No Mistakes (6:14)
  • Je’Nwi Teni (Don’t Gag Me) (performed by Fela Anikulapo Kuti) (5:05)

Running Time: 54 minutes 04 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6890 (2008)

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