The Visitor Movie Discussion Questions

Small Group Study / Produced by partner of TOW

For a Bible Study that relates to the movie The Visitor see the Welcoming The Stranger Small Group Study. These movie discussion questions are part of the Generous Hospitality at Work Small Group Curriculum.

Watch The Visitor (2007) 100 minutes

Summary: Walter is a recently widowed professor of economics from Connecticut, who travels down to Manhattan to stay in his city apartment while he is at a conference. He is startled to find a young couple living there. Tarek (a Syrian) and Zainab (a Senegalese) have in good faith rented it from a man who claimed it was his. The couple are both illegal immigrants. Although they have no place to go, they hastily pack and leave, but Walter decides to let them stay while they look for another place. Over the next few days, a friendship slowly develops. Tarek teaches Walter to play the djembe drum and they are each introduced to the other's world.

The Visitor explores a number of themes around hospitality, identity, cross-cultural communication, and immigration. All of this is set in the context of post-9/11 New York.

Some questions that may help you in your reflections and/or discussion are:

  • It's clear that Walter has lost his sense of calling as a professor. He is just going through the motions. How does this display itself in his treatment of students and work colleagues?
  • What are some of the features of Tarek, Zainab, and Mouna's lives as "strangers?"
  • Walter appears as a very reluctant "host." Why do you think he decides to invite Tarek and Zainab to stay?
  • In what ways are Tarek and Zainab "a gift" to Walter?
  • In what ways is hospitality a two-way experience for Walter, Tarek, Zainab, and Mouna?
  • Being vulnerable, powerless, and resourceless are three common themes for those who are "strangers." How is each of these visible in the lives of Tarek and Zainab?
  • Generous hospitality is only truly possible when we attempt to put ourselves in the position of the other – and see things through their world. What allows this process to occur in this story?
  • True hospitality cannot help but leave both parties unchanged. Reflect on how all the key characters in this story were changed by their experience together.
  • Speculate on how Walter's experience with Tarek, Zainab, and Mouna might end up changing the way he viewed his job as a professor.

Question specific to those in the hospitality industry

  • If you can, share an experience where you have "received" from your guest/s. How has this changed you and the way you understand your role?

Read Luke 10:25-37 (the parable of the Good Samaritan)

  • In what ways do you think the actions of the Samaritan exhibit "generous hospitality?"
  • We're not Jewish and we don't despise Samaritans. So what types of people would we be expected to hate/dislike/discriminate against – or at the very least be unconcerned about? Particularly think about your workplace or industry. (Another way of asking this is: what types of people do we find it hardest to be compassionate toward?) Why might we feel this way?