A poignant and often funny film about rediscovering joy in the most unexpected places, The Visitor boasts an international cast including Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Dabai Gurira and Haim Abbass. Sixty-two-year old Walter Vale (Jenkins) is sleepwalking through his life. Having lost his passion for teaching and writing, he fills the void by unsuccessfully trying to learn to play classical piano. When his college sends him to manhattan to attend a conference, Walter is surprised to find a young couple has taken up residence in his apartment. Victims of a real estate scam, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Gurira) have nowhere else to go. In the first of a series of tests of the heart, Walter reluctantly allows the couple to stay with him, a decision which completely changes his life... Forever.
Richard Jenkins (Prof. Walter Vale); Haaz Sleiman (Tarek Khalil); Danai Jekesai Gurira (Zainab (as Danai Gurira)); Hiam Abbass (Mouna Khalil); Marian Seldes (Barbara); Maggie Moore (Karen); Michael Cumpsty (Charles); 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). Please contact SFC to add other cast members and characters.
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A Touching Tale of Man's Desire and Need to Reach Out to Others
Mark Banks (United Kingdom)
'The Visitor' is a film that I had wanted to watch for many months, and I'm glad to say that my expectations weren't let down - for it is a film I would now recommend widely. At its heart 'The Visitor' is a tale of modern man's/woman's continued need and desire to reach out to others -- to talk to others, to build bridges with others, and to build relationships and communities with others. There is a subtle reminder that no matter how much we fool ourselves into busying ourselves with other activities, this most important of desires, or even needs, will not go away. Richard Jenkins is commendably understated in his role as Walter Vale (deserving of his Oscar nomination) and Haaz Sleiman is highly watchable as Walter's unexpected lodger, and latterly friend: Tarek. Due to its lack of any strong redemptive content its not quite a film that makes it on to my top-100 list, but is still one I recommend nonetheless. In fact, this last point got me thinking as to why I am recommending the film in absence of any strong redemptive qualities - what is it that makes 'The Visitor' more than just a Humanist film? And I think the answer to that question, is that the film ends on such a note to imply that although Walter and his companions have made some progress on their journey, there is still some searching to do. This is to say that although Walter's commendable hospitality and charity are to be admired, they are not full answers in themselves to his search for happiness, contentment and answers to his soul's longings. And in that respect The Visitor is an astute character study.