Wednesday, September 30, 2009

“The Visitor”

“The Visitor” is a quiet, thoughtful drama about the difference between living and “living.” In it, Richard Jenkins from HBO's Six Feet Under gives a beautifully subtle (and Oscar-nominated) performance as Walter Vale, a college professor who's emotionally dead ever since his wife passed away. But Walter is shaken out of this numbness when he’s pretty much ordered by his boss to deliver a paper at a conference in New York City. Walter returns to the apartment he still keeps in the city, and finds an illegal immigrant couple – the victims of a subletting scam – living there. At first, he puts them out on the street, but has second thoughts and asks them to stay until their living situation is sorted out. During their stay, Walter slowly develops a friendship with Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian drummer, and Zainab (Danai Gurira), his Senegalese girlfriend, who sells handmade jewelry at street markets. You can see Walter start to come alive when Tarek starts to give him drumming lessons. And all seems to be going well for the three of them until Tarek is arrested and threatened with deportation. Tarek’s mother, Mouna (Hiam Abbass), comes to the city and Walter offers her a place to stay. Their mutual concern for Tarek’s well-being and feelings about the injustice of it all serves as the seeds for a growing relationship between them. And even though things don’t go exactly how any of the characters in this film would have wanted, seeing Walter at the end of this film made me smile. So while “The Visitor” isn't a “feel-good” movie per se, I did feel good watching it. My Tweet: The Visitor-Uptight widowed college professor befriends an illegal immigrant couple and gets his world groove on. I give it 8 green cards. 8 (out of 10)

“The Visitor”

Released: 2007

Rating: PG-13

Length: 103 minutes

Cast: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira, Hiam Abbass

Director: Thomas McCarthy

Genre(s): Drama, Comedy

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