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
According to the DVD's interviews of both Tom McCarthy and Richard Jenkins, Walter's change of glasses scene (which reveals his change of feelings for Mouna) was Richard Jenkins's idea. See more »
In New York airport, the flight was announced as "flight to Syria", although it should actually name the airport (Damascus), not the country. But more importantly, there is no direct non-stop flight from New York to Syria. See more »
It's only about twice a decade that I run across a movie that really impresses me. It's usually an obscure film that I entered with no expectations -- but left blown away by its cinematic achievement.
I just saw such a film tonight. "The Visitor" A small independent production with zero-advertising. Made by Tom McCarthy whose prior film, "The Station Agent," was an imperfect, character-absorbed drama.
The star of this movie is an actor (Richard Jenkins) whom you'll recognize from his numerous roles as minor-characters, most notably the dead-patriarch in "Six Feet Under." All of the other actors are completely unknown, but notably talented.
The appeal of this film is its story. An aged, listless academic, whose wife died earlier, floats through his uninteresting life until something happens to jar him. What happens next is unexpected, interesting and poignant. It would ruin the story if I told it to you, so you'll have to trust me. Suffice it to say it's a story of rebirth.
Like most of my favorite films, it has comedy, pathos, surprises, authenticity and a philosophical examination of what it means to be human. In short, everything, even politics.
And the presentation is skillfully-crafted. McCarthy demonstrates what was good about his prior work without dragging it down with what was bad about that work.
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