The Visitor is one of those small films that makes you angry at the way the world works but that still satisfies because you witness how one man changes when forced to examine his sad, staid life. That change, which is really the foundation of every good story, film, or book, is not always sweeping, but no less important for its incremental nature.
Walter is a widower who phones in the one economics class he teaches while making little progress on the book he’s writing. When he returns to his rarely used New York City apartment for a conference he’d rather not attend, he’s confused to find an immigrant couple living there. Despite the awkward situation, the couple grows on him and Walter finds himself slowing taking on the couple’s cause; how they help each other is humanizing to watch.
Walter’s change is small but gratifying: a quiet, seemingly rhythmless man, he learns to play the drum in a way that makes you want to learn too. By the end, you may feel you’re helpless to save the masses of people who struggle to make it in America, but maybe learning to make music is something in itself, and maybe helping just two people, like Walter did, is a start. But if that’s not enough, maybe getting a drum and beating the hell out of it will help.