The Descent: Our Review of Martín Boulocq ‘The Visitor’ on OVID

Posted in What's Streaming? by - July 03, 2024
The Descent: Our Review of Martín Boulocq ‘The Visitor’ on OVID

Humberto Guaman Vilca (Enrique Aráoz) eats alone at home, one of the many quiet moments in Martín Boulocq’s The Visitor. Thankfully, the film isn’t too quiet as it depicts Humberto’s father-in-law, Pastor Carlos (César Troncoso) and Elizabeth (Mirella Pascual) who leads a Bolivarian megachurch. They welcome him back into their church and he sees this as an opportunity for his business. He’s doing this all for this daughter, getting visitation rights after getting out of a prison sentence. He imagines a life with his family but will all that fall apart?

How much power does Humberto have? The Visitor exists as a critique of evangelical Christianity that’s sweeping South America, and sure, it’s more complex than that but this is why we’re here as viewers. There are enough shows here showing the church’s faceless congregation, all hands worshipping. The film makes us hear Carlos and Elizabeth’s voices speaking both in Indigenous languages and Spanish. The faceless bodies we see makes it seem like these parishioners aren’t as fanatic. But the subtle critique is still there, that the church isn’t helping these people.

The Visitor aims to be a social critique but it allows itself some cinematic indulgences with scenes that remind us of its protagonists’ facets. Him being a part time opera singer is a great writing choice by the way. Anyway, the film juxtaposes that with him performing with Carlos during one contentious mass. The preacher has his own act of healing his parishioners, but will Humberto play along? Yes he does, or at least that’s what he appears to do, eventually doing something shady. I do have a few nitpicks towards the film concerning pace.

Although I have seen films recently that are slower, The Visitor occasionally  makes viewers’ attention waver. It’s also one of many films that have filler scenes despite its length. Another issue is that it needs more scenes between Humberto and his daughter, although it’s understandable that these scenes are scant because of the characters’ legal limitations. All they do though, together with Humberto’s mother, is hang out during these presumably occasional sleepovers. Fair enough, those few scenes are enough to show his daughter’s growing independent thinking.

File The Visitor as a film of the Americas because of its ‘passive’ protagonist, especially one where things happen to him more than him making things happen. Without giving much away, something that another character does helps Humberto’s trajectory. This supposed passivity is quite the plot arc in a film about God. The film, nonetheless, acts as God, worsening Humberto’s life without being overtly cruel. Strangely enough, the film’s quiet tendencies help soften its blows, making viewers feel for Humberto, despite everything.

The Visitor is an OVID exclusive.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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