In New York
Following the death of his wife Walter Vale's (Richard Jenkins) life has become empty; his home is empty, his job as a teacher is empty and his attempts to fill it with a hobby have come to nothing. Rather reluctantly Walter heads to the city for a conference where much to his surprise he finds his city apartment has been taken over by squatters Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian musician, and Zainab (Danai Gurira), his Senegalese girlfriend. After the initial uncomfortable ness of the situation Walter seeing that they have nowhere else to go invites them to stay which is still rather awkward. But slowly Walter and Tarek find they have a common love of music and Tarek's drumming brings Walter out of the malaise which has been controlling him. But Tarek and Zainab are illegal immigrants and an incident on the subway sees Tarek arrested and looking at deportation.
I will tell you now this is a 55% review; it is a review of 55% of "The Visitor", just the first 55%. The reason is not that I didn't finish the movie, in fact I have watched it many times, but to tell you more than the initial 55% would ruin the movie and it is a movie which begs to be watched and experienced. In fact "The Visitor" is the sort of movie which you might look at and see those laurel reef awards on the DVD cover and think it is not your cup of tea but given a chance and you find yourself becoming captivated by this quiet yet charming and often heart-warming drama.
So what happens in the first 55% of the movie? Well we enter the dull life of Walter, left empty by the death of his wife and job which he has been going through the motions with for the past 20 years. But more importantly we see him arrive in the city and after the initial confrontation when Walter finds squatters in his apartment we get the charm. The charm comes from Tarek who has a warm spirit, good hearted and enjoying life and especially enjoying music. Through Tarek's spirit Walter comes out of his shell and watching Walter's stiff face crack in to a smile through Tarek teaching him to drum is a pure joy as is the close friendship which forms between them.
And then we have the trouble as just a stupid incident in a subway leads to Tarek being arrested and put in a detention centre awaiting deportation. The thing is that the story takes a surprising turn that to reveal would spoil so much. But what I can say is that in a way there is more of the same, the quiet human drama with moments which make you smile and moments which make you burst out with a laugh of pure joy. That is partly down to the brilliant Richard Jenkins but in fact ever single actor plays their part so brilliantly and it is a perfect blend of performances and actors which makes "The Visitor" so beautiful, such a warm experience.
What this all boils down to is that "The Visitor" has the look of a movie which might not be your cup of tea but it is such a charming movie that it will be a movie you will want to watch again and again.