A successful international conductor suddenly interrupts his career and returns alone to his childhood village in Norrland, in the far north of Sweden.It doesn't take long before he is ... See full summary »
In Connecticut, lonely widowed Professor Walter Vale has a boring life. He teaches only one class at the local college and is trying to learn how to play the piano, despite not having the necessary musical talent. Walter is assigned to attend a conference about Global Policy and Development at New York University, where he is to give a lecture about a paper on which he is co-author. When he arrives at his apartment in New York, he finds Tarek Khalil, a Syrian musician, and Zainab, a Senegalese street vendor, living there. He sympathizes with the situation of the illegal immigrants and invites the couple to stay with him. Tarek invites him to go to his gig at Jules Live Jazz. Walter is fascinated with his African drum and Tarek offers to teach Walter to play the drum. However, after an incident in the subway, Tarek is arrested by the police and sent to a detention center for illegal immigrants. Walter has just hired a lawyer to defend Tarek when, out of the blue, Tarek's mother Mouna ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The parking lot in which Walter parks his car after arriving in New York - on East 11th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue - was torn down shortly after the film was released. See more »
The color scheme for the street signs for all areas of NYC was standardized in the mid '90's. All street signs in NYC are now green/white, regardless of location. See more »
Oh shit! We have to get home! Zainab's gonna kill me, I'm on Arab time again.
Prof. Walter Vale:
What is "Arab time"?
It means I'm late by an hour. All Arabs are late by an hour, it's genetic, we can't help it.
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Mr. McCarthy's film seems to be working at several levels, a main one being the character development of Walter Vale, and another the effects of blind bureaucracy upon the human spirit.
It was interesting to see Vale's callous attitude toward one of his students early on when the lad was late turning in a class paper. The student's reason: some serious personal issues. Did the professor show any extra understanding or compassion for the young man? No; the paper was late and therefore simply unacceptable.
Yet when Vale wanted information and understanding later on at the immigration department when making inquiry about the deportation of Tarek Kahlel, what did he do but blatantly rant about how insensitive and unimpassioned was the system. This, after he'd previously witnessed a similar situation at the front desk with another frustrated inquirer.
What's the country to do, having immigration regulations in place: excuse and make special exceptions for certain illegal aliens? As Vale showed no interest in learning about his student's situation, he yet expected the immigration department to bend to his personal demands.
Vale was certainly a pathetic prof, drifting through life without energy or passion. His encounter with Tarek and his wife and mother all seemed rather arbitrary, allowing these relationships to become his interest, for lack of a better direction. Personally, I felt sorry for this glum character, yet mindful that the death of a spouse can cause some derailment in direction.
The cast was uniformly fine, with special kudos to Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman.
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