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The Visitor (2008)

tomatometer

89

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 116
Fresh: 103 | Rotten: 13

The Visitor is a heartfelt, humanistic drama that deftly explores identity, immigration, and other major post-9/11 issues.

87

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 4

The Visitor is a heartfelt, humanistic drama that deftly explores identity, immigration, and other major post-9/11 issues.

audience

84

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 126,501

My Rating

Movie Info

A lonesome widower and college economics professor finds his mundane existence suddenly shaken up when he befriends a pair of illegal immigrants, one of whom has recently been threatened with deportation by U.S. immigration authorities, in the sophomore feature from The Station Agent director Tom McCarthy. Years after losing his wife, 62-year-old Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) has also lost his passion for writing and teaching. In an effort to fill the empty void that his life has become, Walter

PG-13,

Drama

Tom McCarthy

Jan 27, 2009

$9.2M

Overture Films - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on The Visitor

January 8, 2009:
Broadcast Film Critics Name Critics' Choice Winners
The 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards were given on January 8, 2009, to honor the finest...
January 7, 2009:
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The WGA has settled on its nominees for this year's awards -- and yes, "The Dark Knight" is one of...

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All Critics (117) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (103) | Rotten (13) | DVD (6)

At first glance Walter isn't a guy you want to spend two hours with. But by the end of the film, you don't want to see him go. Jenkins is like that: He sneaks up on you and steals your heart with light-fingered skill.

May 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Visitor is a tiny treasure of a movie. This is a wistful comedy that quickly finds its rhythm, but never lets that groove become a rut.

May 2, 2008 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Visitor is a small movie, but its emotions could not be writ any larger.

April 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film becomes less about the suffering of immigrants who have never enjoyed the embrace of Ellis Island than the righteous indignation of a liberal intelligentsia raging against its own powerlessness.

April 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story of Vale's revitalization and his grief is compelling but simple, free of any sentimentality, and marked by powerful performances from Jenkins and Hiam Abbass, who plays Mouna Khalil, Tarek's mother.

April 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The script here is very strong.

April 21, 2008
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

THE VISITOR begs the question, "Is too late to try something new?" If your like the rest of the world, you want the answer to be "Never." THE VISITOR answers that in one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking ways you'll ever see.

August 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Gordon and the Whale
Gordon and the Whale

First with The Station Agent and now with The Visitor, actor-turned-director Tom McCarthy has quickly proven himself a master of the delicately-observed social drama.

January 4, 2012 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews
rec.arts.movies.reviews

The Visitor gives Richard Jenkins a chance to develop a character for the whole running time.

April 28, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Un retrato sutil y sensible sobre la inesperada conexión que se produce entre cuatro personas de diferentes culturas y orígenes, y también una postal algo desencantada y agridulce de la Nueva York posterior al 11/9. Destacable actuación protagónica de Ric

November 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

click for full review

May 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

Our patience with the characters' apathy and uninteresting demeanor is not rewarded enough.

March 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Hollywood Report Card | Comments (3)
Hollywood Report Card

An interesting examination of the unusual relationship between a bored college professor and an illegal immigrant. There are some thought-provoking discussions in the film patched periodically with rough spots.

March 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Tasting the bitter fruits of globalization

February 24, 2009 Full Review Source: JWR

The astonishing sensitivity with which Richard Jenkins approaches his role is nicely complimented by the performances of other cast members.

February 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Its mushy humanism is...insidious.

February 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out Sydney
Time Out Sydney

The best movies are those that understand the human condition and have a personal vision. The Visitor is one of those rare creations. The Visitor is a parable of decency.

February 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Fayetteville Free Weekly
Fayetteville Free Weekly

The not-so subliminal message about life being fair versus breaking the law isn't enough to carry a film purporting to be a character-driven drama.

January 17, 2009 Full Review Source: MovieCrypt.com
MovieCrypt.com

Jenkins, as always has a quiet, almost apologetic hesitation to his performance that serves him well as Walter....a very sweet and gentle film.

January 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinerina

A showcase role for otherwise supporting actor Richard Jenkins, and he makes the most of it without ever being showy.

December 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Exactly the type of movie the GOP would rather Americans not see, as it individualizes (rather than demonizes) its foreign characters and provides them with a collective voice that demands to be heard.

November 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing | Comments (4)
Creative Loafing

A character study drowning in liberal guilt.

November 23, 2008 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness | Comments (7)
Lessons of Darkness

Uplifting and undeniably winning in its perceptive landscape, The Visitor is no stranger to compelling filmmaking rooted in gentleness and inspirational fortitude

November 19, 2008 Full Review
Movie Eye

It is a lovely, well-crafted, bittersweet little film.

October 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope | Comment (1)
Laramie Movie Scope

Dabbles in messages and liberal guilt, but more importantly, it sets up a reasonable and genuine space for a fascinating and heartbreaking character.

October 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

It's a lovely, moving film, marked by memorable performances throughout.

September 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Audience Reviews for The Visitor

A movie I'm sure most people saw only after Richard Jenkins was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar, The Visitor is compelling and well-acted. It starts well, but it suffers in the end because of its change in focus: for a long part in the middle, it's barely about the main character anymore. And though this is kind of the point - he gets swept up in lives very different and much harder than his own - the depth of the early going thins out and the plot becomes much more mechanical, to the point that the final evolution of the protagonist doesn't hit at gut level the way the filmmaker clearly hopes it would. A good movie, but not a great one, notable mostly for Jenkins's performance... the Academy, it seems, would agree.
May 23, 2012
danperry17

Super Reviewer

A lonely widower professor gets a new lease on lfie after a chance encounter with some illegal immigrants.

Based on that set up alone, you could easily just cast this movie off as another case of minority characters acting as an angelic force whose purpose is to help a down and out white, as well as yet again a film where a white man comes to the aid of minorities in need.

Why do that though? Especially when the way it's all handled (as is the case here) is done with care, intelligence, and an overhwelming sense of gentleness and sincerity (in good ways). The film does have typical elements to it, but it's well played, avoids being pandering (almost completely), and is aved by some terrific performances, especially that of Jenkins in a standout lead role.

Yeah, the film is uneven and all over the place with what it is trying to do, but it's never boring, has a lot fo heart, and could have been done a whole lot worse. Give it a go.
May 5, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Now this is more like it! A slow, simple story that flows out organically and doesn't force anything. It starts out lightly but somehow manages to pull out a spectrum of emotions: laughter, heartbreak, peace, frustration. Richard Jenkins is truly a work of art. Instead of stealing the show for himself he reacts to the events and people that happen. The story isn't about him, and he doesn't make it about him, and I appreciate that. The change is subtle yet quick and pronounced and Jenkins never breaks character. He leaks grief and jadedness wherever he goes but you can sense when he is really happy and when his passive bubble is burst. This isn't a role with lengthy soliloquys and in fact the character is quite an awkward one but somehow this only makes it more humanistic, more compassionate.Music is a uniting force in this movie and whomever chose it has a wonderful ear. Good interspersing of African drum beats among the expansive piano runs. The director managed to make New York look very spare but it's never an image of complete coldness. In fact the cinematography is quite warm and this is all owing to Jenkins' quiet sympathy. It just goes to show that depression is not the answer and even though it doesn't end happily I'm left feeling...elevated somehow. Who was really the one most elevated, the immigrants or the professor? I guess the ending shows the professor, the "visitor" was the one that was. I guess the "visitor" is a metaphor for a happenstance upon a really rich culture. I don't know, honestly I'm really struck by Richard Jenkins. I hope he at least gets considered for an Oscar nod. I can't usually tell these things but this nuanced role was played beautifully and naturally.
July 30, 2011
jennifxu

Super Reviewer

The Visitor is a simple and gentle film that explores many issues, from immigration to loneliness. The film tells the story of Walter, an economics professor who, since his wife died, has lost any interest in life. His days are filled with joyless routine. Returning to New York to attend a conference, he finds a young foreign couple living in his apartment. Tarek and Zainab are from Syria and Senegal respectively and were fooled into renting the apartment illegally. Walter however, allows them to stay, mostly out of pity, but also out of interest in Tarek's african drum. Walter's late wife was a professional piano player and Walter had been trying in the years since her death to learn to play the instrument. The drum speaks to him in a way the piano could not, and soon he and Tarek are playing together in the park. They seem to form a quick yet tight bond over music that turns into a warm friendship.

The Visitor could've turned into a very predictable, standard look at america's immigration policy towards muslims post 9/11, but Richard Jenkins (academy award nominated) performance as "every white man" keeps it from being one dimensional. You might get the impression his character is supposed to be the typical american, lifeless and without any cultural heritage, but Jenkins brings a pathos to the screen that goes beyond what you might find in the script. The film is all the more satisfying because of it.
March 20, 2011
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

    1. Tarek: She's a good muslim. I'm a bad one.
    – Submitted by David H (2 years ago)
    1. Mouna: This feels like Syria.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Walter Vale: We are not helpless children!
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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