Takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. Here, the lure of fast money from smuggling ... 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 »
While there is no W 115 St in Queens, there are streets in Queens prefaced by E and W (East and West). The southern end of Cross Bay Blvd, in Zip Code 11693, there are about 20 streets that are prefaced E or W. 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.
See more »
You know a movie is good when you don't want it to end.
I saw this film at Sundance (along with about twenty others). It was the only film I screened that ended with a standing ovation. The accolade was well-deserved. Richard Jenkins completely inhabits the professor, Walter Vale, unmoored by the death of his wife. Drifting, without purpose, grinding through his days, he thinks his life is over -- he is just taking up space. But when that space is invaded by a vibrant couple, Walter has an epiphany.
Richard Jenkins is not the only actor of note in this cast. Everyone is pitch-perfect. But particularly be on the lookout for Hiam Abbass. Every time she is on the screen is a delight. This is one of those rare films that you really do not want to end.
It would be easy to pigeon-hole this film as a topical drama dealing with an uncaring government system. But this film transcends all that. Instead it is a heartfelt film about what happens when people -- with all their desires and difficulties -- bump into one another to express the best part of their humanity. If this is the kind of movie you would like to see made more frequently in Hollywood, vote with your wallet this weekend, then go again and take some friends.
137 of 166 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?