You’ve seen Richard Jenkins before, but you probably didn’t catch his name. He was that crusty old patriarch in “Six Feet Under” and a Fed in last year’s The Kingdom. He’s a supporting role virtuoso; save, of course, for Thomas McCarthy’s new heart-wrenching drama, The Visitor.

Jenkins here is Walter Vale, a horse-faced Connecticut college economics professor mired in a living death. His syllabi are 20 years old, he sulkily pecks at his dead pianist wife’s Steinway piano at home, and he’s been forced to present an academic paper on globalization written not by himself, but by another colleague.

So, he journeys to his rarely used Manhattan pad and discovers a young immigrant couple have plunked their wares into his home. Like clockwork, he boots Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), a Syrian drummer, and his Senegalese girlfriend Zainab (Danai Gurira) off the property, only to relent after realizing they’re homeless.

So what’s a 60-something, boring white dude to do? Try clubbing in jazz joints with his new pals and removing his jacket for a drum jamboree in Central Park. That is, until 21st century realities butt in and Tarek is imprisoned in an immigration detention center.

Jenkins and his supporting cast (for once) are stunning. McCarthy’s film doesn’t stray into over-sentimental territory, and the result is nuanced, Oscar-worthy acting.

Catch The Visitor all week at Sunrise Cinemas Mizner (301 Plaza Real, Boca Raton) or Sunrise Eleven (4321 N.W. 88 Ave., Sunrise). Tickets vary. Call (561) 368-7744 and (954) 748-0333, or visit