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The Visitor: Film Making at its Finest

This Guest Post is By Missy Frye / Observations from Missy’s Window

The Visitor (2007/I) is a subdued film about loneliness, love, life and immigration. I don’t use the word subdued negatively, on the contrary. The story is a realistic portrayal of events that change our lives.

Walter is a widowed professor trapped in a bland life. His teaching position in Connecticut and the book he’s writing, are excuses to hide from the world. When he’s forced to attend a conference in New York City, he finds more than expected.

Unbeknownst to Walter, his apartment in the city is occupied by immigrant couple, Tarek and Zainab. These three lives become intertwined and when Tarek is detained for deportation the impact they’ve had on each other becomes evident. The arrival of Tarek’s mother further embroils Walter in Tarek’s life.

Immigration laws take on a large role in the film but aren’t the core. Director Thomas McCarthy has delivered another character study much like his 2003 offering, The Station Agent, where unlikely relationships heal.

Richard Jenkins’ portrayal of the restrained Walter becomes brilliant when juxtaposed with Haaz Sleiman’s charismatic Tarek. The duo creates interesting and realistic characters and their scenes together are examples of what I love most about movies.

The Visitor is a subtle film with nuance and heart. It didn’t impress me quite as much as The Station Agent but I do highly recommend it.

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