A college professor travels to New York City to attend a conference and finds a young couple living in his apartment.
ActorsStarring: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira, Hiam Abbass, Marian Seldes, Maggie Moore, Richard Kind, Michael Cumpsty, Bill McHenry, Tzahi Moskovitz
Richard Jenkins is one of those actors most people will recognise but you’re not quite sure what movie(s) you remember him from. He is a strong supporting actor, but in The Visitor he has the one lead role he has ever played in a movie to date – and it earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
Jenkins plays Walter Vale, a Connecticut college professor who is lonely and bored, but not depressed; just going through the motions, pretending to be working on a book, pretending to want to learn to play the piano, pretending, well, to have a life. One day, much against his will, he has to deliver a presentation in New York. When he arrives there in his rarely used apartment, he finds a couple Tarek and Zaineb living there. Tarek is a Syrian musician, and Zaineb is a Senegalese who makes jewelry which she sells on the street market.
It turns out they have been scammed by a landlord who has nothing to do with Walter’s apartment, so they leave Walter’s place. But, having nowhere to go, Walter invites them back in to stay a little while whilst they look for another place. By doing so, and unbeknownst to him, he opens the door for himself to re-explore New York, life, friendship and passions.
There are some weaker elements to the storyline, but overall it is a lovely small film exploring ever-relevant and big issues on a small and personal scale. Themes like (illegal) immigration, cultural diversity, shared passions and rediscovering purpose all fall neatly into place.