DVD Review: “The Visitor”
In Thomas McCarthy’s “The Visitor,” a sleepwalking man gets a jolt that shocks him back to life. Walter Vale, played with uncommon grace by Richard Jenkins of “Six Feet Under,” is a widowed social sciences professor whose life has slowed to a crawl. When Walter is asked to deliver a paper at a conference, he reluctantly goes to New York where he learns that his Greenwich Village apartment, where he and his wife lived as newlyweds, is occupied by Tariq and Zainab (Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira), an immigrant couple who sublet the flat from an illegal broker.
At first, Walter is happy to let Tariq and Zainab leave the apartment, but eventually warms to the couple. Tariq, a djembe player, teaches Walter about Fela Kuti and African rhythms, and slowly Walter starts showing signs of life. When Tariq is arrested on a minor complaint and faces deportation, Walter becomes his only true advocate as he helps the young man’s mother (Hiam Abbass of “Munich”) communicate with her detained son and fight for his release.
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