Sixty-two-year-old Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins of Six Feet Under) 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.
The Visitor is both sad and uplifting. It is a story about how a complete stranger can change your life forever, for better or for worse. The movie itself is a slowly paced character study depicting a man who's heart and mind are opened by music and friendship. Richard Jenkins does a stellar job portraying a man who has lost everything and who's life is slowly rejuvinated by a chance encounter. The movie was beautifully filmed, written, and acted, and is the first real Oscar contender of the year. Maybe not for Best Picture, but certainly for Lead Actor and Original Screenplay.
The Visitor won't be in theatres for much longer, so do your best to seek it out quickly. Certainly rent it when it becomes available for home viewing.
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