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In a world of six billion people, it only takes one to change your life. Sixty-two-year-old Walter Vale is sleepwalking through his life. Having lost his passion for teaching and writing, he fills the void by unsuccessfully trying to learn to play classical piano. When his college sends him to Manhattan to attend a conference, Walter is surprised to find a young couple has taken up residence in his apartment. Victims of a real estate scam, Tarek, a Syrian man, and Zainab, his Senegalese girlfriend, have nowhere else to go. In the first of a series of tests of the heart, Walter reluctantly allows the couple to stay with him. Touched by his kindness, Tarek, a talented musician, insists on teaching the aging academic to play the African drum. The instrument's exuberant rhythms revitalize Walter's faltering spirit and open his eyes to a vibrant world of local jazz clubs and Central Park drum circles. As the friendship between the two men deepens, the differences in culture, age and tempera
A deeply moving drama built around longtime character actor Richard Jenkins, The Visitor is a simmering drama about a college professor and recent widower, Walter Vale (Jenkins), who discovers a pair of homeless, illegal aliens living in his New York apartment. After the mix-up is resolved, Vale invites the couple--a young, Syrian musician named Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and his Senegalese girlfriend (Danai Gurira--to stay with him. An unlikely friendship develops between the retiring, quiet Vale and the vital Tarek, and the former begins to loosen up and respond to Tareks drumming lessons as if something in him waiting to be liberated has finally arrived. All goes well until Tarek is hauled in by immigration authorities and threatened with deportation. His mother, Mouna (Hiam Abbass), turns up and stays with Vale, sparking a renewed if subdued interest in courtship. But the wheels of injustice in immigration crush all manner of hopes in post-9/11 America. Vale soon realizes his unexpected capacity for anger over Tareks plight, and the positive changes to his personal life that emerged from a deep involvement with his friend and Mouna, might be the only legacy he takes from this experience. Writer-director Thomas McCarthy has created a wonderfully measured story about change and renewal, and put it all on the shoulders of Jenkins, a largely unheralded but masterful performer whose time for renown has surely come. --Tom Keogh
Stills from The Visitor (click for larger image)
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Beyond The Visitor
Also directed by Tom McCarthy
- Aspect Ratio : 1.33:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medPG13 PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 0.53 inches; 4 Ounces
- Audio Description: : English
- Item model number : ANCH80008DVD
- Director : Tom McCarthy
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, HiFi Sound, NTSC, Surround Sound, THX, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 44 minutes
- Release date : October 7, 2008
- Actors : Richard Jenkins, Hazz Sleiman, Hiam Abbas
- Language : Unqualified
- Studio : Lionsgate
- ASIN : B0015OKWKI
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #14,092 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Walter (played by Richard Jenkins) is an economics professor, bored with his life since his wife passed away. On a rare return trip to his apartment in New York, he finds a young couple, Tarek and Zainab, living there under the assumption that they had legitimately rented the place. Walter lets them stay while they look for another place and Tarek teaches Walter to play the djembe drum, a practice that gives new energy to Walter's life. When Tarek gets stuck in a subway turnstile and has to jump over it to get through, even though he has already paid, he is arrested. It is only then that Walter learns that his new friends are illegal immigrants from Syria and Senegal. Tarek's mother comes to visit and Walter acts as the women's proxy visiting Tarek in detention and hiring an immigration attorney.
This emotionally-driven drama questions the fairness of immigration laws and brings up tough questions. Tarek, his mother, and Zainab are good people who work, add to our culture, and never break the law. However, some may wonder why they all came here illegally to begin with, and the movie does not address the current roadblocks to achieving legal residency. This is not a Christian movie - the only reference to religion is that Tarek and Zainab are Muslims - but it raises important questions that Christians should be thinking about. Although many of us do not personally know an illegal immigrant, The Visitor paints an image of what that would be like. The movie is rated PG-13 but there is no sex or bad language.
One afternoon following a music session in the park, the Syrian is wrongly arrested on the subway for turnstile jumping. He's held by INS for deportation and his mom arrives from Detroit to try to prevent this. The professor falls in love with her, but the story does not end happily for anyone.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.
(7.8) The Visitor (2007) - Richard Jenkins/Haaz Slieman/Danai Gurira/Hiam Abbass/Richard Kind
If you are a native you will definitely see under a different light all the foreigners surrounding you and sometimes annoy you or they do not make sense to you. If you are an immigrant you will feel so much compassion for Tarek. Now if you happen to be illegal in this country (or as a matter of fact in any country) you will get a knot in your stomach.
Another interesting aspect of the movie is the culture differences between Tarek who is a man from the Middle East (Syria) and his girlfriend who is from West Africa (Senegal). And finally you see Walter a New Yorker who is an observer of this relationship. At times he feels awkward or sometimes he makes hilarious comments. It is also great to see how two different persons can come so close to each other. In the case of Tarek and Walter it is music that brings them so close.
All the characters in the movie are every day people and will find it very easy to relate with them. I think this is the reason why this movie is so charming. I highly recommend it. See it with an open mind and heart.
Top reviews from other countries
I was pleasantly surprised. The film drew me in, very topical now in Europe, even if this is 90's USA, but you get the analogy when you start watching it and can see the UK going that way, if it hasn't already.
Not all that much djembe playing in it however, in fact hardly any at all, but the rest makes up for it. One of those thought provoking movies that makes you rethink of your own life and how little we know about what really goes on.
I love the idea that someone who's very insular can make a chance connection with another person or people that enriches their life.
This is a moving film but NOT A WEEPY so don't be put off. I was so lost in it that I can't really remember if it was funny in places or not. Starts slow but quickly gathers pace and has brilliant characters and 100% believable dialogue and story line. Ending was jaw dropping and I found myself thinking about it long after I'd finished watching. I've also seen The Station Agent which has a similar style. Very cool. Wish I'd seen it at the cinema.