The Visitor


Read about this film in Cyn Collins’s Daily Planet review, “21 films in 11 days.”



Director Tom McCarthy, in a follow up to his acclaimed 2003 The Station Agent, has crafted an outstanding second feature in The Visitor, a warm illuminating and superbly crafted film about how disparate people form familial bonds, which inspire an emotional rebirth in a lonely widower.

Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), and economics professor from suburban Connecticut, has withdrawn from life since his wife died. When he must attend a conference on globalization in Manhattan, he goes to his seldom-used apartment in the city and frightens a young couple who have been living there illegally, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian street musician, and his lover, Zainab (Danai Gurira), from Senegal. Seeing that the couple has nowhere else to go, Walter softens and invites them to stay until they sort something out, and a friendship blossoms. One day Tarek has a chance encounter with the police and is immediately detained as a profi led immigrant. Since Zanib cannot visit Tarek at the immigration detention center, she turns to Walter for help. When he decides to assume responsibility for his new friends, Walter begins a journey back toward personal and emotional revival.

“McCarthy’s simple and precise direction elicits wonderfully nuanced performances from a talented cast led by Richard Jenkins (seen prominently in North Country, 2005). The Visitor possesses a powerful, yet quiet, grace and establishes McCarthy as a masterful storyteller” — Sundance Film Festival

(McCarthy, 38, with a long acting career, got his start on the stage with the Guthrie Theater. His work in New York Arab immigration detention centers, he says, provided the basis for the character of Tarek.)

Click here to view the trailer.