7.7/10
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170 user 230 critic

The Visitor (2007)

PG-13 | | Drama | 23 May 2008 (USA)
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A college professor travels to New York City to attend a conference and finds a young couple living in his apartment.

Director:

Tom McCarthy

Writer:

Tom McCarthy
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 19 wins & 34 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Jenkins ... Walter
Haaz Sleiman ... Tarek
Danai Gurira ... Zainab
Hiam Abbass ... Mouna
Marian Seldes ... Barbara
Maggie Moore Maggie Moore ... Karen
Michael Cumpsty ... Charles
Bill McHenry Bill McHenry ... Darin
Richard Kind ... Jacob
Tzahi Moskovitz ... Zev
Amir Arison ... Mr. Shah
Neal Lerner ... Martin Revere
Ramon Fernandez ... Cop #1
Frank Pando ... Cop #2
Waleed Zuaiter ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Arabic | Romanian

Release Date:

23 May 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Visitante See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$86,488, 13 April 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$9,422,422, 5 October 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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

Zainab: Why did you invite him?
Tarek Khalil: We're staying in his apartment. What could I do?
Zainab: And I'll be stuck with him while you play your drum.
Tarek Khalil: You know you're very sexy when you're mad at me.
[leans in to kiss her]
Prof. Walter Vale: [interrupts] Hello! If you don't mind, I think I will come.
Tarek Khalil: Cool.
Prof. Walter Vale: Let me get my coat.
[Zainab frustrates]
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Crazy Credits

Baldwin's L2 grand piano See more »

Connections

Referenced in Half in the Bag: 2015 Re-Cap (So Far) (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Je'nmi Temi (Don't Gag Me)
Written and Performed by Fela Kuti
Courtesy of Universal Music Barclay (FR)
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Charming, character driven drama
2 April 2008 | by movieman430See all my reviews

Thomas McCarthy's second film, after the charming Station Agent, is a quiet, hard look at several different aspects of humanity. The Visitor centers on Walter Vale, masterfully portrayed by Richard Jenkins. A solemn economics teacher, he spends his time pretending to write on his book and learn piano. Walter finds himself in New York on business and runs into two illegal immigrants, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Jekesai Gurira who were tricked into renting his apartment. Tarek and Walter strike up an unusual friendship when Tarek begins to teach Walter how to play the drums. This is interrupted by Tarek's arrest and detention while it is decided whether he will be deported or not. Soon Walter is joined by Tarek's mother Mouna.

The Visitor is a wonderful piece that brings together some of the best performances I have seen this year. McCarthy disarms us with wry humor, quiet wit, and a meditative pace and before we know it we've found ourselves immersed. When the credits have rolled, however, it's not so much the plot that stays with us as the characters. The most perplexing and fascinating character is Walter Vale. The transformation undergone by his character is done perfectly, the changes are noticeable but not intrusive. Tarek and Zainab who have only a handful of scenes together, manage to share incredible chemistry. Hiam Abbass, as Tarek's mother, deepens the connection between the characters, almost filling in the cracks to complete a whole.

At first glance, the Visitor seems political in nature. Thomas McCarthy has actually said that was not true, the deportation aspect of the film actually came into the script later in the process. The Visitor, instead of political aspirations, merely seeks to show us that anyone can change your life and that change is all around us and is indeed a good thing.

In the end, Thomas McCarthy succeeds in bringing capturing the humor, tragedy, and change of the human experience in his new film. Brought to life by incredibly stirring performances, particularly Richard Jenkins, the Visitor is the most emotionally powerful film to light up the big screen in a while.


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