An immigrant story
Walter Vale stares from the window of his
The picture of him on a shelf at home, with a woman,
is a clue: He was married and his wife has died. Since then Walter drinks red
wine and listens to piano concertos, cocooned in melancholia. Awkward as a
ghost among the living, the fire of Walter’s soul has almost been extinguished.
On a trip to
The Visitor is a surprisingly moving fable about a man who makes the transition from apathy to empathy. Not unreasonably, Walter at first asks the squatter Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and his girlfriend Zainab (Danai Gurira) to leave the apartment. But while staring at them from his window as they proceed with their belongings into an unknown future, he decides to follow the couple outside. For obscure reasons he feels sorry about expelling them and invites them to return—until they can get properly settled.
The trailer for The Visitor gives the false impression that it will be a clich feel-good flick. We see Tarek, an ebullient Syrian refugee, showing the stodgy white man how to cut loose by playing an African drum. And the mumbly-fumbly Walter decides to grow a spine and get involved when Tarek is scooped up by the aptly named ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement).
Well, it works as a plot synopsis, but
director-writer Tom McCarthy (The Station
Agent) found ways to lift his story above