Written and directed by Thomas McCarthy (the man who brought us the excellent “The Station Agent”), “The Visitor is another film about how we sometimes form community with people who were previously strangers to us. Richard Jenkins does a great job as the lead character Walter Vale in the film, playing a professor who has been going through the motions of life since his wife’s death several years previously. On a trip to an academic conference in NYC, he encounters the illegal immigrants Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Tarek’s girlfriend Zainab (Danai Gurira), who have been squatting in his little-used apartment there.
Tarek and Zainab help to reinvigorate Vale. This is especially true of Tarek, who begins to give Vale drumming lessons. After Tarek’s arrest, Vale becomes even more involved in the lives of these two immigrants and ultimately meets Tarek’s mother, played beautifully by Hiam Abbass. In fact, all four primary actors perform admirably.
Though one can see the ending coming from a mile away, the journey there is a very good one, and I recommend this film, giving it 8 out of 10 stars.
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