Movie Review by Harriet Robbins
Actor/director Tom McCarthy, who made his debut with the award-winning The Station Agent, has brought to the screen another winner, THE VISITOR, now playing in select theaters and in DVD release (by Overture Films).
An independent film that struggled to stay alive has finally been given a chance and is now on display with excellent attention being paid to it, deservedly so.
The story deals with 62-year-old Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins), a college professor coping with the loss of his wife and with a diminished interest in his current lifestyle. All this changes when he goes to New York City to attend a conference. He finds a young couple living in his apartment, the Syrian-born Tarka (Haaz Suleiman) and Zainab (Danal Gurira), from Senegal. They have been victimized by a real estate scam.
Walter understands their plight and reluctantly allows them to stay. This is the first crack in his zombie-like existence. Tarak, an excellent musician, teaches him the rudiments of African drumming. In a short time, Walter discovers his innate talent and becomes involved in the world of music as a participant. It brings his joy of living up to top level, giving him a passion for it all.
Their friendship deepens as they continue to share their mutual love of music. Then Tarak, an undocumented citizen, is arrested and held for deportation.
Walter takes on the problem and does all he can for Tarak, which is very little as the law is strict and the situation desperate. Mouna (Hiam Abbasa), Tarak's mother, arrives from the midwest, looking for her son. Walter and Mouna unite in an attempt to win Tarak his release. The future looks bright for them.
To sum it up, "life is beautiful," despite the obstacles life has put in their way.
THE VISITOR is filled with hope and a delicious sense of the beauty that is all around us if would only choose to seek it out. What better message is there during these troubled times?
Don't miss THE VISITOR. You will learn and benefit from this simple tale that is well told and has passion and purpose.