When you got home and open the door and finds out that there is a black woman taking her time in your bath tub, how do you react? A stranger in your own house. The girl screams, thinking you are an intruder to their space. Her partner, a Muslim young man, runs to her side and grabs you by the neck threatening to punch. What will you do?
‘Til you explain that you are the real owner of the house, and them as just visitors. This is the premise of the small film with a big heart, The Visitor. But instead of you getting rid of them, and calling the police for these intruders, you befriend them and get to know them. You ask them where they are from, what they do for a living, and other basic facts about their life.
We tend to befriend a stranger when we find commonalities with them, such as character, traits, hobbies, and many more. The Muslim man and the owner of the house share the common like for music, the former for African beat and the latter for classical music. In life, there are people who made an impact on us. And it is not necessarily someone close to you, but rather, a stranger or someone you met accidentally.
The story has political undertone. It deals with immigration rules, post 9/11, including sweeping tales of unwarranted arrest without trial, inhumane deportation, maltreatment. In a country exerting its muscle to seek revenge for the terrorist attacks in New York and Philadelphia, it has become a challenge to balance the individual human rights versus homeland security, of civil liberty versus state control.
The movie stars Richard Jenkins, who is nominated for Best Actor in this year’s Academy Awards. Written and directed by Thomas McCarthy.