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The Visitor - Blu-ray DVD / musical DVD / dark humor DVD / horror DVD review
THE VISITOR Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Jekesai Gurira, Hiam Abbass, Marian Seldes, Maggie Moore
Director: Thomas McCarthy Studio: Anchor Bay
DVD release: 7 October 2008 Runtime: 104 min.
(1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, PCM 5.1 Surround), An Inside Look at The Visitor, Commentary w/ director Tom McCarthy and actor Richard Jenkins, Playing the Djembe, Deleted Scenes, Trailer

Professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) has been doing his job for decades, and he's lost his zest for the material (economics, I think). He's written a couple of books and has a reduced class load to handle the burden of another. The way he gazes out his office window, you know he'd rather be elsewhere. He takes piano lessons in his Connecticut home, using his wife's piano - she died years ago after a successful career as a concert pianist. He loves music, but he doesn't seem to really have a talent for it.

When a paper which has his name on it but to which he didn't really contribute needs to be presented at a conference in New York City, his boss sends him. He goes to stay at his rarely visited apartment only to find it inhabited by Zainab, a Senegalese woman (Danai Jekesai Gurira), and her Syrian boyfriend, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman). They were renting the apartment through someone they knew (possibly the super). Walter allows them to stay until they can get on their feet; he's a soft-hearted man, and lonely.

The three get to know each other, and eventually Walter and Tarek become pretty good friends. Where Walter is reserved and an introvert, Tarek is outgoing, friendly and fearless. Tarek begins to teach Walter to play the djembe, an African drum.

Tarek talks Walter into playing drums in the park. They go to join a drum circle, a free-form musical free-for-all. Walter resists at first but can't stop himself from joining in. On the way back to the apartment, Tarek is arrested in the subway. Post 9/11 security measures have made him a target for profiling, and he is mistaken for a gate-jumper. Walter soon finds out that Tarek and Zainab are not legal citizens. Tarek is imprisoned, and Walter must act as intermediary between he and Zainab.

The Visitor is an evenly-paced, heartfelt drama. Walter cries out for companionship non-verbally - he needs something; he needs to live again after years in mothballs, and an unexpected meeting makes him realize it. Director Tom McCarthy, who also created The Station Agent, again delivers a worthwhile slice of life that leaves us without a happy ending, but with some closure.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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