In Connecticut, the widower and lonely Professor Walter Vale has a boring life. He teaches only one class at the local college and is trying to learn how to play the piano, despite not having the necessary musical talent. Walter is assigned to attend a conference about Global Policy and Development at the New York University, where he is to give a lecture about a paper that he is coauthor on. When he arrives at his apartment in New York, he finds Tarek Khalil, a syrian musician, and Zainab, a Senegalese street vendor living there. He sympathizes with the situation of the illegal immigrants and invites the couple to stay with him. Tarek invites him to go to his gig in the Jules Live Jazz and Walter is fascinated with his African drum. Tarek offers to teach Walter to play the drum. However, after an incident in the subway, Tarek is arrested by the police and sent to a detention center of immigrants. Walter hires a lawyer to defend Tarek and out of the blue, Tareks mother Mouna appears at Walters apartment from Michigan. He invites her to stay in Tareks room and while trying to release Tarek, Walter and Mouna get close to each other and he finds a reason to live an exciting life again.
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This review is from: The Visitor (DVD) This film addresses the complex interaction and emotional conflicts of "us" vs "them", "native born" vs "immigrant", in a contemporary story. Points of view and emotions are explored in depth, and all characters change, some a little and some much. Given today's news from the Middle East, one wonders about the lives of real people like those portrayed in this film. A good film for group discussion of how we perceive each other.
This review is from: The Visitor (DVD) This was a wonderful, thought provoking, poignant story that realistically represents the problems and concerns of our immigrant friends and neighbors. What can be done about it? That was the question that I came away with. It seems we must find someway to encourage people like these common, hard-working, resourceful people to stay safely in our country. It made me aware. It did it's job and met its purpose. Loved it and I will share it with everyone.
How do you make a movie about a middle-aged widower suffering from depression without depressing the audience? This movie has a very arresting premise and a truly important message for all of us, but I did not quite believe in the central character Walter Vale nor in the actor (Richard Jenkins) playing the role. When the movie ended with a symbolic life-affirming action, I believed in him less. The movie was an earnest, well-meaning film: the character too was an earnest well-meaning, well-intentioned man, but he didn't click for me.He's lonely. He goes to his all-but abandoned apartment in the city and discovers that a couple, a man from Syria and his girlfriend from Senegal are staying there. He lets them stay, and therein begins his transformation from a lonely inner-directed person to a compassionate person interested in others. His new friend teaches Walter how to play the drums, and this becomes the opening-up of his personality. The Syrian man gets arrested, is about to be deported; his mother comes to visit, and Walter falls in love with the mother.It seems like a low-budget indie movie that has an important message to convey, but Walter didn't ring true to me, perhaps because the actor, though competent, may have been miscast.We are a country of immigrants. No man is an island, and we should not be intolerant of or opposed to immigrants who have something to add to our society. Friendships, relationships, new discoveries, awakenings within the person can often lead people out of depression.For me Walter is a difficult person to connect with as we watch him gain back his humanity and really his soul.
"The Visitor" is the epitome of the artsy movie and represents where such a movie can be strong and where it can be weak. On the plus side, the movie is intriguing and powerful. It sets up an interesting situation in which a rich, white professor encounters two illegal immigrants, reluctantly agrees to help them and ends up (predictably) becoming friends with them. It's a heart-warming story, even if it is pretty unrealistic and manufactured--the illegal immigrants are boyfriend and girlfriend; one is from Syria, the other from Senegal; at the same time, the professor, supposedly in New York for a conference manages to stay an extraordinarily long time to get to know his new friends. It's reasonably well-acted--the actors do a good job of getting into their character and creating vivid portraits of real human beings.The problem is that the movie's storytelling choices were not wise. As mentioned before, there are several, problematic, severely unrealistic elements. But reason can be suspended if storytelling is otherwise strong. However, it is not. The main character--the professor--while superbly played by Richard Jenkins, is obnoxious and intolerable. He has the social IQ of a middle schooler and the awkwardness emanates from him in completely unreasonable doses. And the script makes other poor, unorthodox choices, such as interjecting silly slapstick humor at inappropriate points and stupidly beginning the picture with a ridiculous piano teacher scene.The bad execution is sad because I feel as if "The Visitor" could have hit important emotional points that it only flirted with. It could have mused on the nature of friendship, how we deal with loss and, of course, the political bombshell of illegal immigration itself. But anything "The Visitor" attempted to do with these issues failed because of its odd lack of coherence in its direction and script.
Sometimes Hollywood gets us so caught up with action, suspense, specialeffects, blood and gore and violence that it's easy to forget whatmakes a good movie. As a remedy for that problem, I highly recommend"The Visitor." It works - and it works well - on a couple of fronts.Most directly it's a sobering reflection on the problem of illegalimmigration in America, and the system that tries to enforceimmigration laws - often targeting the illegal immigrants (and, yes, Irealize they're illegal) who really aren't doing anything wrong.They're making their own way, they're not taking jobs away fromAmericans, they're not causing any trouble. But the system finds themand spends a lot of time and a lot of resources trying to deport them.One watches this (admittedly, as a non-American, I watch this as anoutsider) and wonders if the U.S. Government doesn't have moreimportant things to worry about than the type of illegal immigrantdepicted here. But that indictment of the system is really only themost obvious part of the movie. At its heart, this is a very powerfulstory about needy people who find each other and support each other andbecome like family to each other.Richard Jenkins was superb as Walter Vale, a professor at a Connecticutcollege who gets sent to New York City to present a paper that hehadn't even written. Vale is from the start a sad character - stuck ina job that obviously doesn't excite him, seeming to be looking forexcuses not to do the job and not really sure what he wants out of hislife. He's a widower, and without his wife he seems lost and lonely.For the first while, this really doesn't seem to be going anywhere orestablishing itself with any real purpose, but then, going to New York,Walter arrives at the apartment he still rents in the city, only tofind that an illegal immigrant couple (Tarek and Zainab) have taken upresidence there. After the understandable confrontation, Walter invitesthem to stay since they have nowhere else to go and he and Tarek slowlyand cautiously develop a friendship based around a mutual love formusic. Eventually, Tarek is arrested, and Walter becomes his lifeline,carrying messages to the detention centre from Zainab and Tarek'smother Mouna, and hiring and paying for an immigration lawyer to try toget him released. When Mouna (played very well by Hiam Abbass) shows upin New York (she's also an illegal immigrant living in Michigan) sheand Walter begin a friendship that teeters on the edge of a romancethat lasts until she has to return to Syria to help Tarek once he'sdeported despite Walter's efforts to help. There was a marvelousconnection between Jenkins and Abbass. I hesitate to call it"chemistry" with all that word implies, but they seemed very naturaltogether. It's really a very moving scene (one of the most moving I'veseen) when Mouna comes into Walter's bedroom and climbs into his bed,needing only to be held after the news of Tarek's deportation - andnothing more than that happens.The ending of the movie is a bit ambiguous. Did Walter leave hisunsatisfying life as a professor? The last scene holds that out as apossibility, but offers no definite answer. This is a sensitive, somewhat slow-paced but always interesting movie,very much about real people and the challenges they have to overcome.
I find it deeply disturbing that so many people writing on the messageboard could show so much callous insensitivity toward the characters. Ialso find it horrifying that these Americans with a so-calleddemocratic education should have such hate for immigrants, love forauthoritarianism and no mental distinction between normal immigrationprocedure and the Gitmo-isation of Homeland Security internment.According to these people "illegal immigrants" should be treated as"terrorists" with no due process no lawyer no appeal no access to theirfamilies nor their families to them. No matter their positivecontribution to society or the dangers they face if deported. SadlyObama seems to be maintaining this complex we have yet to see anychange on this. Just remember that a hundred years ago people travelledaround the world without even a passport. One cannot overstate how lessfree the world has become. As for the movie story the point should beobvious the American is a man with a stale life that is given newpurpose and feeling by the people who come into his life. Without thesenew people he would have continued a life of the undead until deathitself.
This really was one of the worst movies that I have ever seen, and I amtruly glad that I did not pay any money for it (thanks to a Redboxpromo code). I feel like in every scene in this movie, I was waitingfor something to happen. So many scenes start in an amazinglypredictable way...Walter is standing around, doing something ornothing, and then he receives a telephone call, or a knock on the door,etc. Then he is involved in incredibly unengaging dialog for a momentor two. Cut to the next scene which may or may not serve any purpose.The movie felt much longer than it was due to the lack of any action orreasonably paced plot progression. I felt like I was watching the moviein slow motion. None of the characters really developed in a strong way(Walter tried to but still remained an awkward doofus) and the attemptsto integrate different elements into the plot didn't really work justbecause these attempts were really halfassed! Don't waste your money oryour free Redbox promo!
Customer review from the Amazon Vineâ¢ Program (What's this?) This is a fine arthouse film about a quiet, isolated man who finds strength and a new voice when he finally discovers how to connect with others. Walter Vale is a burnt-out, widowed college professor whose specialty -- which he's long since bored with -- is the globalization of the economy. Real-life globalization enters his life when he visits his semi-abandoned New York apartment and finds two people -- both illegal aliens -- living there. They aren't quite squatters, since a "friend" told them they were subletting the flat, but no one is as surprised as Walter to find them there. Breaking out of his closed-down routine, Walter allows them to stay, and an unlikely friendship emerges. Walter, who had been trying to learn to play piano, in homage to his deceased wife, now finds himself drawn to African drumming, and gains an able tutor in Tarek, a charming, affable Syrian refugee who is one of the two squatters. As the film settles into a potentially cliched can-the-white-guy-find-his-groove story arc, disaster hits and Tarek runs afoul of Homeland Security and the INS, and the movie becomes a subtle political advocacy film. What saves it from tedium or cliche are the small emotional moments that fill each frame -- this is a quiet story about the power that simple decency and humanity can add to our lives, especially in the face of implacable social and historical pressures. It's a nice, thoughtful film, worth checking out! (Joe Sixpack, Slipcue film reviews)
A great movie about real connections with real people. The main character comes alive as he finds meaning in more than himself.
As I know the topic of illegal immigrants can be a hot button issue, I'm sure there will be some who will dismiss "The Visitor" as a bit of propaganda. And the film certainly has an agenda. The immigrants in question are a terrific, life-affirming bunch. The bureaucracy, as to be expected, is insensitive. Most scenes involving immigration officials portray them as dismissive and uncooperative. But the film never lingers on these scenes, instead it focuses on the quiet moments of a family in crisis. By being a great character study, "The Visitor" tells an individual story with the power to move and even uplift the audience.Richard Jenkins ("Six Feet Under") gives a terrifically understated performance as a academician just going through the motions of life. Attending a conference in New York, he happens upon a couple who have illegally sublet his New York apartment. Instead of being outraged, he opens his home and heart to the young tenants. Experiencing the city through new eyes, Jenkins starts a process of rebirth. He especially connects with Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a young man who introduces him to drumming and has such vitality. Sleiman gives an extraordinary performance. It's easy to see what appeals to Jenkins--so when Tarek is apprehended in the subway, Jenkins steps up in a most unexpected way.Jenkins deals with Tarek's mother in a refreshingly mature coupling and becomes consumed with helping his young friend. Far from the empty life he has been leading, these new friends and this mission redefine what is important to him. All the performances are so solid, but Jenkins especially carries a heavy load. He undergoes a huge transformation but never "acts" it. The film is so quiet, the screenplay so understated, and the performances so subtle--it's a perfect balancing act by writer/director Tom McCarthy (the equally unexpected charmer "The Station Agent."I admired "The Visitor" immensely. And while it's a serious and dignified film, it is also an enjoyable one. It may be one of the most quietly affecting films of the years. As its power sneaks up on you, the film makes an impact. A great character study and a potent human drama--even if you're put off by the subject, "The Visitor" is a well constructed and pitch perfect look at one family's story! Take a look. KGHarris, 11/08.
After finally finding time to rent and watch this, I am immediately on the hunt for more films with Richard Jenkins. The film overall is amazingly dead-on: a spare, almost poetic script; impeccable casting; creative directing, and brilliant acting from all the major characters. Jenkins is incredible. I can't believe I don't already know his work. I could watch this film over and over, simply for his acting. A master.Also, the film is true-to-life. I've worked with people in immigration detention, and nothing in the film is exaggerated or untrue.
Another over-rated movie. The first half is very good and draws you in. The lead actor is excellent as a quiet, isolated, middle-aged man. As he meets two younger people from outside the US, he grows to care about them and begins to come out of his shell. Very real, very sweet, very interesting in a quiet, understated way. Then in the middle of the film there's an abrupt shift. It becomes very run-of-the-mill and the characters begin turning to cardboard. All US government officials are portrayed as evil and uncaring, while all immigrants are seen as gentle and good. The USA becomes the Great Satan once again. Then there's another shift and it becomes a sweet, middle-aged love story. Not bad, but not the film I signed up to see. It ends with "the bad guys" and loneliness winning--so don't see it if you're prone to depression.Oh, and the cover picture on the DVD gives away the end. By the time you're in the middle of the film you'll be able to guess the ending because of it. An irritating, but not uncommon, practice.Bottom line: Want to see a good hour of film? Watch the first half of The Visitor.
'The Visitor' is about a jaded academic widower who re-engages withlife after encountering an illegal immigrant in his New York flat.Richard Jenkins is good in the lead role, but the film has an oddlyanaemic air. Immigrants the world over are distinguished through theirmisfitting cultures, their poverty (resulting from a lack ofconnections and assets in their new world) and, as a reaction to theabove; their rumbustiousness. Of course, not every immigrant fits thisstereotype - yet in a sense, it's what makes immigrant communitiesinteresting. 'The Visitor' is keen to debunk the clichÃ©: itsprotagonists are mild, utterly American, not apparently poor, somewhatseparate from their own communities and would be at home at anymiddle-class dinner table. While such a portrayal makes its own (notnecessarily invalid) points, it feels like the professor makes a veryshort journey when he enters their world. He plays the piano, they playthe African drums - and that's about it. In fact, the film's benignportrayal extends to the wider city, which has rarely seemed a lessthreatening place on film. But there's not a lot of drama to be foundin it.
Customer review from the Amazon Vineâ¢ Program (What's this?) not complicated. Deceptively simple. And it stays with you. Masterfully done. I really liked it. So will you. People are people. Deserving of our attention.
Richard Jenkins plays Walter Vale, a college professor in Connecticutwho attends a conference in New York City only to find a young coupleliving in his rarely used city apartment. Jenkins should be up for anOscar nomination with his subtle, nuanced performance. Haaz Sleiman,Danai Jekesai Gurira, and Hiam Abbass are also solid in theirrespective roles. The film explores the therapeutic and unifying effectof music and raises important questions about academia and immigrationpolicy. For example, Walter is respected in his field and a prolificwriter. However, when he reveals that he "pretends to be busy" in hisacademic capacity, it is a devastating realization and admission thatis meant to raise a mirror to those in academia to consider thefollowing: even if one is making meaningful contributions in the areaof published knowledge, these efforts are futile if one ignoresconnection with "real" people and engagement of those who can make adifference in public policy.
Writer-Director Tom McCarthy has taken a simple idea - the humanizingpower of music -- and has fashioned a very satisfying film, one thatappeals to both the mind and the heart. Veteran character actor RichardJenkins ("The Kingdom," "North Country,", "Shall We Dance") stars asWalter Vale, a college professor who arrives at his Manhattan apartmentone evening, after a long absence, and discovers he is not alone. Ayoung Muslim couple, Tarek, a musician from Syria, and Zainab, a womanfrom Senegal who makes and sells jewelry at street fairs, have beenliving there, unknowingly illegally.Realizing the situation, they immediately gather their sparsebelongings and leave, forgetting a photo of themselves. Walter, awidower, discovers it, and perhaps a distant memory of a better time.He catches up with them a few blocks away to return the picture.Essentially a good man, although a very lonely one, he invites them tocome back, just until they can make other living arrangements. Littledo these three people -- or the viewer -- realize how their lives willchange, in some cases for the better, and in other cases, for theworse.The movie first introduces Walter trying to learn to play the piano.His teacher (Marian Seldes, in an amusing cameo) points out theobvious: it's hard for someone Walter's age, without any naturaltalent, to succeed. So why is he so determined? Could it be a way tosomehow unite in spirit with his deceased wife, a classical pianist?Before long, Walter discovers he does indeed have some natural musicaltalent -- but not for the piano but for the drum. Tarek introducesWalter to the drum and a very different kind of music.Through music, Walter discovers something deep within himself. Jenkins,in an award-caliber performance that one hopes will be remembered whenthe award-bestowing season rolls around, makes the most of his rolethrough subtle body language. In his face and eyes, we see a wearylife, one lived for too long on automatic pilot. The joy he conveys inlittle bursts of discovery through the drumbeats of other countries maymake your heart leap within you.Writer-director McCarthy, however, has much more up his sleeve. Tarekand Zainab are illegal immigrants. Through a strange twist of fate,Tarek is quickly scooped up by immigration officials. Walter, havingreconnected with his humanity, is galvanized to help. Like Walter, theviewer is swept up into a world where the promises of inscribed on theStatue of Liberty (seen several times throughout the film) jar coldlyagainst the politics of a post-9/11-world.If you need a change of pace from the summer blockbusters of specialeffects -- and I have enjoyed many of them, I gladly admit -- and wantto instead be enthralled by the plight of several ordinary characterswhom you have come to know and care for very deeply, this is a film youshould seek out. It is one of the finest films of the year.
Widowed Professor WAlter VAle(Richard Jenkins,at long last getting achance to have a movie almost to himself)stumbles upon tenants in a NYCapartment he rents but has not been to in many years while he's in townfor a convention. While initially put-off and skeptical about thedwellers--a Syrian Bohemian musician and his African(I forget thecountry of origin)girlfriend who designs--he develops a bond with themas they fill a void in his erstwhile empty and solitary life. That,in anutshell is "THe Visitor".Stirring performances by Jenkins,Haaz Sleiman(As the Syrianmusician),DAnai Gurira(As the girlfriend)and Hiam Abbass(As theSyrian's proud,dignified and vulnerable mother) make this film,thesecond by character actor Thomas McCArthy(whose STation Agent I haveyet to see,and now want to catch more than ever)a compelling,ifsometimes not entirely plausible film. While some of the criticism ofthe film is stooped in the issue of illegal immigration(And,as such,isnever entirely answered),the story itself is actually AROUND it and notnecessarily about it,though it is broached. IT's,to me,above beingpolitical or "with message",hence the summery line. Probably too slowfor many theater audiences,this film is a definite renter and shouldget some consideration come time for awards.
Customer review from the Amazon Vineâ¢ Program (What's this?) After achieving critical (if not box office) success with his 2003 directorial debut The Station Agent (which he also wrote), writer/director Thomas McCarthy is back with another understated human drama that critics are already in love with, and for good reason. The Visitor, McCarthy's second film, works on many of the same levels as his first, making very real characters in very real situations come alive and be interesting.Richard Jenkins, most recently seen in the slapstick comedy Step Brothers as John C. Reilly's uptight father, gives a quietly moving performance (a la Bill Murray in Lost In Translation, though with a bit more emotion) that gives the film a solid backbone for its emotional story. Jenkins is Walter Vale, an introverted professor who has become something of a recluse since the death of his wife. When he is asked to make a trip to New York to present a research paper at a conference, he discovers that an immigrant couple have taken up residence in his apartment there. The rest of the film centers around their unlikely friendship and the challenges they face.It's a moving story with powerful acting from everyone involved and a script that moves the action along nicely without forcing anything. There are a few moments when the film starts to feel just a little preachy about immigration laws but this can be seen more as the frustration of the characters rather than a simple attempt at forcing a message. The last 30 minutes are fairly emotional, but in a quiet, heartfelt way. The Visitor really is a moving film for anyone who enjoys a good film that inspires conversation.
"The Visitor" is brilliant! This is how the story goes: In a world of six billion people, it only takes one to change your life. Sixty-two-year-old Walter Vale is sleepwalking through his life. Having lost his passion for teaching and writing, he fills the void by unsuccessfully trying to learn to play classical piano. When his college sends him to Manhattan to attend a conference, Walter is surprised to find a young couple has taken up residence in his apartment. Victims of a real estate scam, Tarek, a Syrian man, and Zainab, his Senegalese girlfriend, have nowhere else to go. In the first of a series of tests of the heart, Walter reluctantly allows the couple to stay with him. Touched by his kindness, Tarek, a talented musician, insists on teaching the aging academic to play the African drum. The instrument's exuberant rhythms revitalize Walter's faltering spirit and open his eyes to a vibrant world of local jazz clubs and Central Park drum circles. As the friendship between the two men deepens, the differences in culture, age and temperament fall away. After being stopped by police in the subway, Tarek is arrested as an undocumented citizen and held for deportation. As his situation turns desperate, Walter finds himself compelled to help his new friend with a passion he thought he had long ago lost. When Tarek's beautiful mother Mouna arrives unexpectedly in search of her son, the professor's personal commitment develops into an unlikely romance. And it's through these new found connections with these virtual strangers that Walter is awakened to a new world and a new life.The cast led by Richard Jenkins (in an Oscar-worthy performance as Walter Vale) is brilliant! The story and screenplay and directing by Tom McCarthy (who also wrote and directed "The Station Agent" (2003) and is also an actor, whose roles include "Flags Of Our Fathers" (2006), "Syriana" (2005), "Good Night, And Good Luck. (2005) & "Meet The Parents" (2000) is brilliant!The music by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek (who won the Oscar for his work on "Finding Neverland" (2004) is excellent! The cinematography by Oliver Bokelberg (who also did the cinematography to "The Station Agent") is excellent! The film editing by Tom McArdle (who also did the film editing to "The Station Agent") is excellent! The casting by Kerry Barden, Billy Hopkins, Paul Schnee, Suzanne Smith (all four did the casting to "The Station Agent" & "Funny Games" (2008), & StÃ©phane Foenkinos is excellent! The production design by John Paino (who also did the production design to "The Station Agent") is excellent! The art direction by Len Clayton (who also did the art direction to "The Station Agent") is excellent! The set decoration by Kim Chapman is excellent! The costume design by Melissa Toth (who also did the costume design to "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" (2004) & "Synecdoche, New York" (2008) is excellent!This is an brilliant, heartwarming drama that stays will you even after its done. This is one of the best films of the year. This is definitely a front-runner at the Oscars for next year, especially Jenkins' performance.
Customer review from the Amazon Vineâ¢ Program (What's this?) I'm in two minds regarding Thomas McCarthy's "The Visitor." On one hand, the movie is a very well-acted, low-key character drama. On the other hand, I found the blatant political agenda intolerable in its one-sidedness.Richard Jenkins plays college professor Walter Vale. Walter returns to his New York City apartment for the first time in months to find - to his understandable shock - a young couple has taken up residence there. An unscrupulous landlord has rented out Walter's fully furnished apartment as if it were a vacant unit. Rather than turn the couple out on the streets - something the man and woman are willing and ready to do - Walter allows them to share the place with him. The man is from Syria and the woman from Senegal.Walter is a complex and carefully drawn character. His pianist wife has passed away sometime in the recent past, and he has become a frustrated musician - trying to learn piano as a way to remain connected to her. He is coasting in most areas of his life. As a tenured professor, he barely puts any effort into his job. He is emotionally closed off and quite miserable in general. But something about the plight of this young immigrant couple stirs a compassionate part of him that has been dormant for sometime. He makes it his mission to be as generous as possible in helping these people.Turns out that the couple are illegal aliens. They are fully aware of the risks. Both are intelligent and educated. Both are creative artists (the girl creates jewelry to sell, the man is a percussionist who performs regularly). Neither have any criminal background. But Tarek, the Syrian man, has ignored the procedures that could have established a legal right to be in the country. His mother is illegal as well, and she is largely responsible for Tarek's plight - having taken the poor advice of other illegals with blatant disregard for the immigration process.Before anyone gets the wrong idea, let me make it clear: I fully support legal immigration to the United States, from anywhere else in the world. I realize there are problems with the system as it presently operates. And I detest the fact that so many businesses in the U.S. employ illegals and go unpunished. I don't blame anyone for attempting to live, work, and raise their families in the greatest country on planet Earth. I realize that many countries in the world are hellholes with oppressive regimes, and the problems within the U.S. pale by comparison. There's nothing wrong with people trying to seek asylum here rather than have their human rights trampled in their own country. But there are laws that should be followed as well. "The Visitor" crosses the fine line, at least to some degree, between being a character-based piece of storytelling and political screed. It is important to remember that people who live and work in the country without documentation are comitting a criminal act. Not all of the millions of illegal aliens currently in the U.S. are productive contributors who mean no harm. That's not to say they are all terrorists or all are lazy or all are violent criminals (though, of course, there are some that fall squarely into each category). We have enough people meaning to either do harm to the U.S. in some way and/or drag down the economy via non-productivity that are LEGALLY entitled to be here. Call me old-fashioned, but you can't just squat in the U.S. and expect to be considered an American. You have to earn it, as so many million immigrants have done (and continue to do) over the years."The Visitor" carefully stacks the deck in such a way that it is virtually impossible not to feel great sympathy for Tarek, his girlfriend, and his mother. But to me, it became a bit manipulative by presenting these characters as flawless. I enjoyed the movie primarily for Jenkins excellent work as he shows Walter reclaiming a sense of purpose for his life. He develops a relationship with Tarek's mother that demonstrates he is moving forward with his life, perhaps for the first time since his wife's passing. The treatment of the illegals within the detention center isn't really dealt with. Tarek complains to Walter that they don't allow him to go outside - hey, he's lucky to not be in jail. How does he think Walter would be treated if he decided to set up illegal residence in Syria? Hopefully if there was a sequel, we'd see Walter take up the cause of helping inform immigrants of the proper way to become legal - rather than assuming anyone should be above the law.