The Visitor

The Visitor

Thomas McCarthy (2007)

15 Certificate


Our Score
Writer/director Thomas McCarthy's follow-up to The Station Agent is a timely meditation on what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. It's a small, thoughtful and semi-comic movie that nonetheless manages to make a big impact. Key to this is the superb Richard Jenkins as Walter Vale, an uptight university professor who is sent, against his wishes, to cover an academic conference in New York. He arrives at the apartment he has left unattended for several years to find it inhabited by two strangers - Arab musician Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and his African girlfriend Zainab (Danai Gurira). Vale is angry at first but allows them to stay, becoming fascinated with Tarek's exotic djembe drum. These opening scenes are wry, light and rich in comic nuance, but the mood becomes darker when Tarek is arrested and Walter is drawn into his deportation trial. Fortunately, Jenkins is a more than good enough actor to carry the film through this drastic tonal shift (and was Oscar nominated for his performance), and though its message of compassion may seem obvious to European audiences, The Visitor is an affecting view of America's legal system and the people it dehumanises.


A withdrawn college professor takes pity on two illegal immigrants and invites them to stay at his home. The resultant friendship brings him out of his shell as they teach him African drumming, and he becomes involved in their struggle to remain in America when one of them is discovered and faces deportation. Comedy drama, starring Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira.

Cast & Crew

Walter Vale Richard Jenkins
Mouna Hiam Abbass
Tarek Haaz Sleiman
Zainab Danai Gurira
Barbara Marian Seldes
Karen Maggie Moore
Charles Michael Cumpsty
Darin Bill McHenry
Jacob Richard Kind
Zev Tzahi Moskovitz
Director Thomas McCarthy
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Halcyon Releasing LtdGuidance: Some swearing.Available on: DVDReleased on: 4 Jul 2008
Drama Comedy