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|Time Out of Mind|
dir-scr Oren Moverman
prd Richard Gere, Lawrence Inglee, Caroline Kaplan, Edward Walson, Miranda Bailey, Bill Pohlad
with Richard Gere, Ben Vereen, Jena Malone, Kyra Sedgwick, Jeremy Strong, Steve Buscemi, Yul Vazquez, Michael Kenneth Williams, Brian d'Arcy James, Geraldine Hughes, Colman Domingo, Danielle Brooks
release US 9.Sep.15, UK 4.Mar.16
Street romance: Sedgwick and Gere
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a relaxed pace, this gloomy drama is a gritty and emotional exploration of big city homelessness anchored by a bracingly honest performance by Richard Gere. The level of detail in this film is remarkable, offering one of cinema's most thorough portraits of how it feels to be on the streets and the toll that being without a job or home takes on mental health. Obviously, it's not easy to watch.
While cleaning out an abandoned flat, Art (Buscemi) finds George (Gere) sleeping in the bathtub and throws him out on the street, despite protests and excuses. Clearly George is homeless. He spends his days following but keeping his distance from his estranged daughter Maggie (Malone). And as the weather turns frosty he moves into a homeless shelter, where he meets chatterbox Dixon (Vereen). He also has an encounter with Karen (Sedgwick), whom he mistakes for his ex. But what he really needs is a form of identification so he can get his Social Security Number.
Gere is terrific, the kind of guy who could convince anyone that he was genuinely in need of help. Even if much of what he says is untrue, and the cash he begs for is actually spent on alcohol. This is clearly about survival for him, maintaining a veneer of dignity through a network of lies he tells himself about his life. And it's also apparent that he isn't quite sure what's real and what isn't.
The cast around him is terrific at adding layers of meaning to his experience. And Moverman directs the film with muted energy, letting scenes meander quietly. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski shoots this in a way that turns the audience into surreptitious voyeurs, forcing us to agree or disagree with how George is treated by the people he encounters. Even so, the movie drifts aimlessly, with no real momentum as it explores the series of interconnected circumstances that have brought George to this place.
Along with capturing the subtle details of how it feels to seek help within a convoluted system, the film also astutely depicts the range of attitudes to homeless people, from coldly dismissive to patronising to compassionate. And George's moment of clarity is potent: "I'm homeless, I don't exist!" It's a beautiful character sketch, but it would have had a much stronger kick if there was a way to emotionally identify with him.
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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