The Visitor

(2008) *** Pg-13
103 min. Overture Films. Director: Tom McCarthy. Cast: Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira, Hiam Abbass, Marian Seldes.
Character actor Richard Jenkins finally steps to center stage in The Visitor, Tom McCarthy's follow-up to indie darling The Station Agent. While not lacking in comic observation, the new film has a tragic pull beneath it as, again, distinctly different individuals gravitate towards each other in unlikely ways. Jenkins' disenchanted professor winds up befriending a young couple, a woman from Senegal (Danai Gurira) and a man from Syria (Haaz Sleiman). His new acquaintances take him out of his rut, but their friendship is truly tested when immigration status becomes an issue. McCarthy again proves his skill at gentle observation and endorsement of a more open-minded lifestyle; along the way, he also turns his camera on the Kafkaesque nightmare that can ensnare illegals—--without overt preaching, the film questions the humanity of our current policies.
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