The Visitor

User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 75 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 66 out of 75
  2. Negative: 5 out of 75
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  1. EdgarM
    Apr 3, 2009
    5
    A feel-good movie for the Left. You get to bleed for the useless illegals but don't have to have a happy ending. Truly fine performances by Jenkins and Abbass but there really wasn't much of a credible plot. Unless you a post-modern groupie who salivates at the mention of "the others" or are in need of yet one more reason to feel guilty for being an American, the story drags and A feel-good movie for the Left. You get to bleed for the useless illegals but don't have to have a happy ending. Truly fine performances by Jenkins and Abbass but there really wasn't much of a credible plot. Unless you a post-modern groupie who salivates at the mention of "the others" or are in need of yet one more reason to feel guilty for being an American, the story drags and the manipulation grates. Expand
  2. Gary
    Jul 21, 2009
    3
    Naive to the point of being embarrassing. It's hard to suppress some serious eye-rolling when adult characters start yelling ingenuous nonsense like: "It's not fair! He's a good man!" A note to Thomas McCarthy: Bad things happen to good people. And only for a person lucky enough to be raised in the sheltered cocoon of middle class America could this come as a revelation.
  3. MarcD.
    Apr 16, 2008
    9
    Just a beautiful, elegant film. I wasn't expecting too much from this movie, but by the end, my heart was in my throat, and I had an amazing sympathy for the characters - partly a function of the story, but also because of some amazing acting performances. Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman will be recognized, no doubt, but Hiam Abbass, as Tarek's mother, is spectacular. For any Just a beautiful, elegant film. I wasn't expecting too much from this movie, but by the end, my heart was in my throat, and I had an amazing sympathy for the characters - partly a function of the story, but also because of some amazing acting performances. Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman will be recognized, no doubt, but Hiam Abbass, as Tarek's mother, is spectacular. For any adult male who has a close relationship with his mother (like me!), or for those mothers who remain close with their adult children, this movie will grab you. Expand
  4. JayH.
    Oct 1, 2008
    8
    What a beautiful film, unique and brilliantly acted by all, especially Richard Jenkins. The writing is superb, so touching and believable. Excellent direction. The slow pace works well for the film.
  5. SteveT.
    May 12, 2008
    9
    A moving and subtly-told fable about opening one's heart to the beauty of the world. This film will, sadly, be seen by too few people.
  6. crypticritic
    Jul 7, 2008
    10
    This movie was beautiful in every way. Richard Jenkins acting was superb. The casting was fantastic. The plot believably tragic. For anyone interested in immigration issues, this is a must-see, but there is more to the movie than this. Issues of aging, academic hypocrisy, grieving, cross-cultural connections, and inter-generational relationships are explored as well. I would hope that The This movie was beautiful in every way. Richard Jenkins acting was superb. The casting was fantastic. The plot believably tragic. For anyone interested in immigration issues, this is a must-see, but there is more to the movie than this. Issues of aging, academic hypocrisy, grieving, cross-cultural connections, and inter-generational relationships are explored as well. I would hope that The Visitor would be nominated for more than one OSCAR... including Best picture of the Year. I hope to purchase this movie as soon as it is released ! It is one of the best that I have seen in recent years. Expand
  7. hollyc
    Mar 4, 2009
    8
    Loved the subtle story and really true-to life characters. From the immigrants, to the professor (Jenkins was brilliant), the mother and the institutional workers---all of it was put together perfectly, to avoid both a ham-fisted hollywood cliche story, or the opposite--an overly PC, agenda indie film. Well done Jenkins--definitely earned his Oscar nom---and bravo McCarthy---I will Loved the subtle story and really true-to life characters. From the immigrants, to the professor (Jenkins was brilliant), the mother and the institutional workers---all of it was put together perfectly, to avoid both a ham-fisted hollywood cliche story, or the opposite--an overly PC, agenda indie film. Well done Jenkins--definitely earned his Oscar nom---and bravo McCarthy---I will definitely keep watching what he does. Expand
  8. SM
    Dec 31, 2008
    9
    Really thought-provoking. Shows why every culture is respected and how all people from different backgrounds can live together in peace.
  9. BrandenR.
    Oct 31, 2008
    7
    Richard Jenkins is great as Walter in this movie, but I think the movie is shallow. The topic of illegal immigration was not explored here. You feel like you know Walter instead of Tarek and Zainab. Shame.
  10. BarbyF.
    Apr 18, 2008
    9
    I've never been felt so lucky, that by chance, I was born here in America. A beautiful movie, one of the few I've ever cried in. I forgot I was watching actors act.
  11. DanaM.
    Apr 30, 2008
    8
    A good movie with excellent acting. Very touching story about a man who loses his wife and his passion for living until encountering these touching people and their lives living underground as illegals
  12. RalphC.
    May 26, 2008
    8
    Ot the two plots, the reinvigoration of Walter, the tired American, gets a 10. The tragedy of Tarek, the vigorous illegal, being deported, gets a 6. He came here without permission, then cries "I did nothing wrong." That's pretty flawed.
  13. AndrewC
    Oct 5, 2009
    9
    I think this film was especially good on a number of levels. For the certain people in the US giving it a negative score based on "leftist crap": I really hope one day you have a situation where 'humanity' and 'humanism' comes into play in your personal life, and this film comes back into your mind. We're not talking politics here in the general sense, even though I think this film was especially good on a number of levels. For the certain people in the US giving it a negative score based on "leftist crap": I really hope one day you have a situation where 'humanity' and 'humanism' comes into play in your personal life, and this film comes back into your mind. We're not talking politics here in the general sense, even though of course the film portrays both major sides. I was very impressed with the elegance and above all dignity that comes across throughout the film. The characters are well fleshed out and very believable. Even the characters who some might label the "evil" guys I find sympathy with - the film shows how the System works and even the people with the bad news are just tracking along their rails, as per their job. This movie is both a wake-up call to the average middle class individual stuck in their "life" and yet not actually living it, and also a call to post-9/11 --> we all understand the reason for tightened security, but I really hope we don't lose our humanity in the process. (apologies this wasn't a true review - the lame negative reviews affected me! - the legitimate negatives were fine!) Expand
  14. JenniferL
    Apr 26, 2009
    9
    The reviews that try to paint this as some sort of "leftist" movie are ridiculous. It's not a political movie by any means and subscribes to no ideology. The film is emotionally honest and masterfully executed. Don't listen to the diatribes trying to politicize this movie. See it and you'll love it.
  15. AndreaD.
    Nov 28, 2008
    9
    This movie dares to do what few films do today: it makes you think. It also doesn't take the easy route out like so many Hollywood blockbusters do. There is no heavy message here, no ham-fisted diatribe. The great power in this movie is its subtlety and its heart. Richard Jenkins gives a quiet yet astounding performance. I think this is one of the top ten films of the year.
  16. SheilaN.
    Oct 19, 2008
    10
    I just can't believe how lovely this movie is. A thought-provoking movie that deals so well with the immigration/deportation process. Heartbreaking. Made me realize how fortunate we are to live in a country people are still willing to risk everything to be a part of.
  17. LauraS.
    Apr 19, 2008
    8
    I wanted it to last longer, just to continue watching Richard Jenkins' amazing and subtle performance. Each one of his gestures, movements and silences were terrific and magnetic. Good story, a very current American-International fable. I felt the Syrian drummer and his Senegalese girlfriend were a bit less rich, less multi-dimensional; not sure how much of that has to do with the I wanted it to last longer, just to continue watching Richard Jenkins' amazing and subtle performance. Each one of his gestures, movements and silences were terrific and magnetic. Good story, a very current American-International fable. I felt the Syrian drummer and his Senegalese girlfriend were a bit less rich, less multi-dimensional; not sure how much of that has to do with the acting, the script or the direction. Expand
  18. tm
    Apr 25, 2008
    10
    This movie was excellent. Scott Foundas' (Village Voice) review is totally ludicrous. Excellent acting from all, excellent writing. Richard Jenkins, mainly a character actor, is superb, showing so much thought and emotion with his eyes and face. The actresses playing Tarek's wife and mother are incredible. Alternately funny and touching. Just a wonderful little movie in which I This movie was excellent. Scott Foundas' (Village Voice) review is totally ludicrous. Excellent acting from all, excellent writing. Richard Jenkins, mainly a character actor, is superb, showing so much thought and emotion with his eyes and face. The actresses playing Tarek's wife and mother are incredible. Alternately funny and touching. Just a wonderful little movie in which I didn't know what would happen next, which is always good. Shows how much can be done with a small budget and no "stars". Collapse
  19. PennyN.
    May 3, 2008
    10
    Anyone not touched by this film does not have a heart and soul. Including Damon C below...how sad are you. The predictability of your existence is too boring to detail, and a waste of space on metacritic.
  20. VictorO.
    Jun 7, 2008
    10
    Richard Jenkins is always excellent, and in this feature he's truly come into his own as a movie star and should win Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
  21. MarilynD.
    Jul 26, 2008
    8
    Delightfully entertaining! Beautiful, yet tragically depressing story.
  22. UzK
    Feb 14, 2009
    10
    Very touching. Loved the emotions exemplified in this film.
  23. PatA
    Aug 16, 2009
    4
    Pure, unadulterated, leftist crap. You know the type...soft music while the poor, trampled-on protagonist goes about his business fighting against the man. Great if you want to show your softer side to a girl to get her to sleep with you that night, but otherwise you'll be sticking your finger down your throat by the end of the movie.
  24. RobinH.
    Nov 22, 2008
    9
    A lovely, poignant film that touches your heart and your mind. Do not miss this wonderful gem.
  25. CharlotteB.
    Oct 31, 2008
    0
    What a disgusting naive liberal white guilt film. White culture is uninspiring to Walter. Only Muslim culture has value. There is anti-Semitism in this film that is condoned, when his Jewish named neighbor is portrayed as gay and silly, talking about his dog sprinkles & his mother in Florida. This movie is the height of "guilty white liberalism" when Walter is only respectful of the What a disgusting naive liberal white guilt film. White culture is uninspiring to Walter. Only Muslim culture has value. There is anti-Semitism in this film that is condoned, when his Jewish named neighbor is portrayed as gay and silly, talking about his dog sprinkles & his mother in Florida. This movie is the height of "guilty white liberalism" when Walter is only respectful of the Muslim characters & satires the non-Muslims. I was deeply disappointed and do not to be brainwashed that third world Syrian & Senegal culture has more dignity than Euro-American. Expand
  26. Nan
    Apr 12, 2008
    8
    Excellent performance by Richard Jenkins.
  27. DamonC.
    Apr 25, 2008
    2
    Vastly overrated and boring. The narrative doesn't illuminate for me the loss faced by the Richard Jenkins character. He finds redemption in drumming in the subway? Illegal immigrants are sent home? So what? I felt nothing.
  28. ZekeB.
    Apr 26, 2008
    5
    Great acting. Terrible plotting. Implausible situations and behavior. Dull white guy who can't play classical piano blossoms after contact with primitive drumbeats. So far, sort of stereotypical, but the actors are charming.... But then DWG(out of a weakly conveyed mentor/mentee infatuation with the drummer boy)spends lots of money on a lawyer, chucks his job, falls in love with the Great acting. Terrible plotting. Implausible situations and behavior. Dull white guy who can't play classical piano blossoms after contact with primitive drumbeats. So far, sort of stereotypical, but the actors are charming.... But then DWG(out of a weakly conveyed mentor/mentee infatuation with the drummer boy)spends lots of money on a lawyer, chucks his job, falls in love with the drummer boy's mom (who is a lovely lonely widow-what luck!) Somehow a moody indy flick becomes an after-school special about immigration. I do not understand these other rave reviews. Ultimately, this is a silly movie. Expand
  29. EllenS.
    Apr 29, 2008
    7
    The interesting thing about this film is that just when you think you know where it
  30. PeterB.
    May 11, 2008
    9
    I loved it, both funny and touching, staying "real" throughout. I want more and more movies like this, not the crap that Hollywood makes.
  31. ChadS.
    May 12, 2008
    9
    Walter Vale(Richard Jenkins) plays the piano, because his late wife played the piano. Quitting the piano; parting ways with the piano itself, in favor of the African drum, living and breathing the drum, as Walter does in "The Visitor", he is saying goodbye to his wife and his bourgeoise lifestyle. Walter's living space is representative of our country, a microcosm. Walter perceives Walter Vale(Richard Jenkins) plays the piano, because his late wife played the piano. Quitting the piano; parting ways with the piano itself, in favor of the African drum, living and breathing the drum, as Walter does in "The Visitor", he is saying goodbye to his wife and his bourgeoise lifestyle. Walter's living space is representative of our country, a microcosm. Walter perceives Tarek(Haaz Sleiman) and Zainab(Danai Jekesai Gurira) as intruders when he first encounters the third world couple in his New York apartment. After having second thoughts, he allows them to stay, to be visitors. Soon, Walter and Tarek become fast friends, and soon after Tarek undergoes a Kafkaesque ordeal, Zainab becomes friends with the economics professor, too. For contrast, Zainab, a jewelry-maker, deals with a customer who treats the Senegalese street vendor as if she WAS a visitor. Zainab isn't the visitor; Walter is. That's because Walter doesn't impose a protocol with his new friends. He rides the Staten Island ferry. He escorts Hiam(Mouna Khalil), Tarek's mother, to "The Phantom of the Opera". And most stirringly, he goes underground to perform as a street musician, not to ride the subway. "The Visitor" is a movie about tolerance; tolerance so real, it starts to look like acceptance. Expand
  32. DavidF.
    May 31, 2008
    10
    This is a perfect film. Loved every minute of it. Beautifully acted and directed. Go see this wonderful movie.
  33. MikeL.
    Jun 19, 2008
    1
    Utterly implausible yet predictable story. Halfway through, I couldn't wait for it to end. It's politically correct, which may appeal to viewers inclined to believe that a stiff older white guy can learn to play hot riffs on the African drums while fighting the immigration police on behalf of a friendly stranger.
  34. Aug 12, 2010
    9
    Easily one of my favorite films in recent years. I have recommended this film countless times and it was equally as good on the second viewing. The blossoming of the professor character, given a new set of influences in his life, was realistic and a captivating story. If only all films had such a brilliant personal portrait as the main theme. Issues of the tragic impacts of illegalEasily one of my favorite films in recent years. I have recommended this film countless times and it was equally as good on the second viewing. The blossoming of the professor character, given a new set of influences in his life, was realistic and a captivating story. If only all films had such a brilliant personal portrait as the main theme. Issues of the tragic impacts of illegal immigration are played out effectively, but to me was a side story to that of our professor finding himself. Expand
  35. Aug 23, 2010
    7
    Ageing widowed professor, goes to New York conference, immigrants living in his flat, makes friends, learns how to drum, male immigrant gets caught, mother turns up.
    Slow-paced but enjoyable film which I did think in parts was like Lost in Translation where not much happens but the characters build up.
    Well acted, nice music & a film with it's heart is in the right place.
  36. Aug 8, 2011
    9
    Richard Jenkins gives the performance of a lifetime in this touching,subtle film.Tom McCarthy's vision is unflinchingly humanistic as well as politically and culturally relevant.It's at times funny,always moving and incredibly absorbing.Highly recommended!
  37. Nov 28, 2012
    8
    An excellently structured, skillfully acted drama that effectively weaves sincere, relevant, and affecting thematic elements throughout its very unique story.
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    80
    A combination immigrant/resurrection tale, Visitor tilts toward the soulful rather than the political, and could be this year's humanistic indie hit.
  2. 75
    This is a simple story of human drama that provides an incentive to spend a couple of hours in a movie theater during a spring that has not provided many such reasons.
  3. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    50
    McCarthy unquestionably means well, but he's made one of those incredibly naïve movies that gives liberals a bad name, and which does more to regress the sociopolitical discourse than advance it.