Time Out Of Mind is a harrowing film, depicting the life of a homeless man in unprecedented detail. It is this unprecedented detail that makes the film hard to watch, since as much as it is true in its intentions of showing how the homeless really live, it makes for a tiring, at times dull experience from a storytelling standpoint.
Richard Gere plays George. We first meet George squatting in an abandoned flat, sleeping in a bathtub. From there, we follow him from bench to bench, hospital to hospital, and shelter to shelter. He meets interesting characters, struggles with bureaucracy, and shares tidbits about his past life, including the daughter who hates him (played by Jena Malone), the wife who passed away, and such.
How George, who seems like a well mannered and educated man, got to this position is unclear, and it doesn’t have to be explained for us to suffer with him while he goes through the motions. If only it wasn’t so monotonous to watch. A lot of the film is George sitting or sleeping in benches, drinking beer on his own, passing out in hospital waiting rooms, with nothing much happening besides some beautifully framed shots, courtesy of director Oren Moverman. There’s no denying that, as much as the subject matter is depressing, this is a beautiful looking film, depicting urban life in a New York we are not used to seeing. If only more was going on, both in terms of conflict and developments, it would certainly help this story stand out.
The saving grace here is Richard Gere’s committed performance. George is a man who has basically given up hope, and we go with him every step of the way on his path to regain it. Even as the most handsome homeless man to ever grace the screen, he seems almost unrecognisable and fully committed to the character, and it’s Gere’s acting that makes the film a worthwhile experiment.
There’s certainly no denying the talent on display in Time Out Of Mind. If only there was more to it story wise. It’s more documentary than thrilling drama, and so it doesn’t make for the most enjoyable of films.
Time Out Of Mind is out on DVD in the UK in March 14, 2016, and will be playing at the Glasgow Film Festival. For more info please check http://visitgff.glasgowfilm.org/