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

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Movie Info

When professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) travels to New York for a lecture, he's stunned to find illegal immigrants Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab (Danai Gurira) living in his apartment. It comes out that it was rented to them by a swindler, and Vale feels sufficiently sorry for them that he invites them to stay. They get on well until Tarek is accused of jumping a subway turnstile and lands in a detention center. He risks being deported, and Vale does everything he can to prevent it.

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Critic Reviews for The Visitor

All Critics (124) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (111) | Rotten (13)

Audience Reviews for The Visitor

  • Jan 11, 2012
    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.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 20, 2011
    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.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2010
    I bought this movie at Best Buy to give to my mom (along with "Raising Arizona") for a birthday present. I had never seen it, but I remembered that it was critically praised, along with Richard Jenkins' performance, and it was on sale (cheap son, I am). So today, after visiting my grandpa, my mom said, "Let's pop in that movie you got me," and I was like, "Sure!" Then, about ten minutes into the movie, I realized that this would be my 1,000th review on Flixter! I had mixed feelings, because I had thought that I would have given more thought to what my 1000th movie would be, but I got over that and said, hey, I shouldn't plan these things, I should just let it happen.... So, how was the (roughly) 1,000th movie I've ever seen? Good! It was quietly pretty moving, and Richard Jenkins did deserve all the praise he got. He was perfect for the role. The movie didn't blow me away or anything, but it deals with some hot topics like immigration, post 9/11 fears, racial profiling, and interracial and interreligious relationships, all in a very delicate way, all the while evolving Richard Jenkins' character. It was a sweet movie, and one that I would have no problem recommending to anybody who likes small, socially relevant movies. It also made me want to buy a Djembe drum. So, for my 1,000th film, I could have definitely done worse.
    Jared H Super Reviewer
  • Oct 18, 2010
    Almost a perfect movie. Richard Jenkins acting was magnificent and the unknown supporting cast was also surprising good. I feel that for this to have been a perfect movie, it should've developed the characters(Tarek) up more so when he was sent to detention, the audience would feel more tied into the movie. Overall a very good film.
    Anthony L Super Reviewer

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