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The Visitor

Unforgettable direction
By BRETT MICHEL  |  April 16, 2008
3.5 3.5 Stars
haaz_sleiman6inside
The Visitor

Sixty-two-year-old economics professor Walter Vale (former Trinity The VisRep actor and artistic director Richard Jenkins) is a ghost, haunting the shadows of his own life, only occasionally bringing a piano teacher (he’s on his fifth) into his Connecticut home, maintaining a tenuous connection to his late concert-pianist wife. Visiting Manhattan for a conference, he’s surprised to find a young couple living in the apartment he barely uses. Victims of a real-estate scam, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian musician, and Zainab (Danai Gurira), his Senegalese girlfriend, have nowhere to go, so Walter allows them to stay, and Tarek begins teaching him the African drum. When his new friend is arrested as an illegal alien, he finally awakens from his slumber. A liberal fantasy? Perhaps, but writer/director Tom McCarthy, expanding on the theme of unexpected friendships that propelled 2003’s The Station Agent, is a subtle artist, and that trait extends to Jenkins –– a name you might not recognize but likely won’t forget. 108 minutes | Kendall Square + Embassy
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