Theatrical Review: THE VISITOR

by: Chase Whale
April 17th, 2008

Rating: 9/10

Director, Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Cast: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira
Studio: Anchor Bay

There's one thing in my life I've never tried, and that's playing an instrument. Often at times I wonder if I should take up lessons, and at other I just tell myself, "It's too late now." THE VISITOR begs the question, "When is too late to pursue your dreams?" 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.

THE VISITOR stars Richard Jenkins in his first major/leading role. He’s now 61-years-old, but that does not mean he’s new to the acting game. You have seen him in over a dozen films, you have seen him in the Coen Bros. stuff, and you have seen him as the father who died in "Six Feet Under" giving him no choice but to boost his career as a ghost.

In THE VISITOR, Richard plays Walter Vale, a burned out college professor who gets summoned to attend a conference in New York City to speak about a paper that he didn’t write. Richard arrives in New York only to discover that a young couple is living in his long time abandoned apartment. Instead of bloodshed and police arriving on the scene, Richard tells them to stay until they find another place to live. He soon bonds with the male half of the couple, Tarek, played marvelously by Haaz Sleiman.

Walter and Tarek’s relationship builds quick when Walter stumbles on Tarek playing the a solo drum. Early in the film, Walter tries to take up learning the piano, but isn’t successful, but when Tarek begins to show him the rhythm, Walter’s luck changes rapidly. After a small gig Walter and Tarek share together in a local park, Tarek gets picked up by undercover police when they are crossing through the subway system. That’s when we learn Tarek and his girlfriend are illegal immigrants and that’s when politics and the ugly side of America come into play.

I will stop the story there because this is a film you must see and not only to find out the rest of the story, but to see how wonderful the scenes come together and how inspiring the ending of the film is. Walter Vale gives us hope that we're never too old to pick up the pieces and start something new.

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