The Visitors Reviews
'The Visitors' is almost a microcosm of Kazan's career filmed in his own house, and showcases both the strengths and weaknesses of the legendary film-maker. The cinematography flicks between close, clever angles, and the flat, stagey style evident in many of Kazan's earlier films. An inherent focus on dialogue is also apparent here, though with a comparatively weak screenplay by his son, Chris, one realises how important the input of greats such as Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Harold Pinter were on his larger-scale films.
Thematically it is similar to Brian DePalma's much flashier "Casualties of War" in its depiction of a tragic incident in the vein of My Lai. The climax causes one to wonder how closely the Father figure : a drunken, anger fuelled WWII veteran-cum-author was modelled on Kazan himself.
However, Kazan was at his best when working with actors - and in particular, developing prodigious talents. After having launched the celebrated careers of Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, James Dean and Warren Beatty - Kazan here gives James Woods his first starring role. Steve Railsback also makes a convincing antagonist in his first screen appearance as a thuggish Sergeant (Sean Penn may have picked up some scowling tips from Railsback's performance for 'Casualties of War'). Rather than his abilities as a director, this is likely to be the most resonant part of his legacy.
Dubious right-wing politics aside, 'The Visitors' is a fascinating low-key relic.