Richard Jenkins, the balding, bespectacled character actor best known as the ghostly father on HBO's Six Feet Under, gets the role of a lifetime in this powerful second film (2008) by writer-director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent). A middle-aged economics professor grappling with the death of his wife, Jenkins travels to New York to deliver a paper and arrives at the apartment they'd kept there for years to find an immigrant African couple (Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira) have been conned into renting the place. The professor's growing friendship with the man, a Syrian-born percussionist, begins to pull him out of his shell, but then the musician's busted and sent to a deportation center in Queens. The irony is overwhelming and yet somehow muted: Jenkins's professor is learning to open himself up again in a country that's closing itself down. With Hiam Abbass.
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