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The Visitor (I) (2007)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  23 May 2008 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 35,339 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 165 user | 226 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

A college professor travels to New York City to attend a conference and finds a young couple living in his apartment.

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(as Tom McCarthy)

Writer:

(as Tom McCarthy)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »

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A look at two adult men struggling to fit into society.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Mouna
...
Barbara
Maggie Moore ...
Karen
Michael Cumpsty ...
Charles
Bill McHenry ...
Darin
...
Jacob
Tzahi Moskovitz ...
Zev
...
Mr. Shah
Neal Lerner ...
Martin Revere
...
Cop #1
...
Cop #2
...
Omar
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

connection is everything See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

23 May 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Visitante  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$86,488 (USA) (11 April 2008)

Gross:

$9,422,422 (USA) (3 October 2008)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to dvd's interviews of both Tom McCarthy and Richard Jenkins, Walter's change of glasses scene - that reveals his change of feelings for Mouna - was Richard Jenkins' idea. See more »

Goofs

When Walter gets his first djembe lesson, Tarek explains that all Western music is in 4/4 time (which is not true). He then says djembe music is in 3/4 time (also not true), and he proceeds to teach Walter his first rhythm, in syncopated 4/4 time. See more »

Quotes

Prof. Walter Vale: We are not helpless children!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Ha Dias
Written by Luca Mundaca
Performed by Luca Mundaca
Courtesy of Putumayo World Music/Lumeni Productions
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
The Visitor
2 May 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Visitor strings together unlikely events in the lives of a professor and his visitors. Remarkably sincere and touching, the unimaginable events feel natural.

Awkward Connecticut economics professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) has essentially checked out from his job, his personality and his life. Walter is forced by circumstance to return to his abandoned New York City apartment. When he returns he meets Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Jekesai Gurira), who have taken up unauthorized residence in his apartment. Tarek and Zainab teach Walter to live again, to come out of his shell and remind him how unfair life can be.

Writer and director Thomas McCarthy wrote all of the characters in The Visitor with almost contradictory personality attributes which gives them each a complex humanity.

McCarthy wrote Walter Vale painfully dull and bumbling but it was Richard Jenkins who also makes Walter charming and heart breaking. In nearly every setting, Jenkins both makes the audience scrunch their faces at Walter's social inadequacies while simultaneously bringing out our Florence Nightingale instincts. As Walter changes in the course The Visitor, Jenkins keeps the essential qualities of Walter but changes him in surprising ways.

The supporting cast isn't any less remarkable in The Visitor. There is a master of life, a vision of unabashed sadness and an embodiment of sensual motherly warmth. Haaz Sleiman, who plays Tarek, is (damn foxy) full of life as Tarek. His esprit fills Tarek, the audience, the other characters and actors with such vitality. Danai Jekesai Guria plays Zainab, Tarek's girlfriend. So much of Zainab is forlorn despondent dejection. Rich with beautiful hardness and unnaturally attractive pain, Danai Jekesai Guria made Zainab so hard to watch but impossible to pull your eyes away from. Hiam Abbass plays Mouna, Tarek's mother. Her fear is palpable but she never loses her intangible sensuality.

The most remarkable part of The Visitor is the way it organically shows the way life can change un-expectantly, unfairly and without warning and does it with real, raw emotion. Just when you think you've figured out what the movie is about, you slapped with a new reality. It is frightening, timely and angering. Even the ending, which is not the typical movie ending, is emotive in a subtle and realistic way. I was not overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the movie, I was perfectly whelmed; a task indeed.

The pacing is the one complaint I have with The Visitor. The editing could have been much better. There are beautiful scenes sometimes drawn out to boredom. Scenes that were the actors' timing is slightly off are only highlighted by the shoddy editing. The Visitor is an artsy movie but Tom McArdle checked out completely in a few of the scenes.

Slow bits aside, The Visitor is a rewarding film with rich characters, beautiful acting and complexities that might make those people who are quick to tears, cry.


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