Take a Sip: every time the camera has something in its way
Take a Drink: whenever our protagonist has another setback
Take a Drink: whenever Richard Gere tries to deny his circumstances
Take a Drink: every time Gere ignores Ben Vereen’s motormouth
Do a Shot: for small kindnesses
Do a Shot: every time Gere sells a coat
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Playing homeless is a time-honored Hollywood ploy to try and… get some Oscar play/serious critical thread/demonstrate legitimate social awareness? Definitely two of those three.
Nobody even knows what the fuck this is, Paul Bettany.
Richard Gere is the latest to attempt to bury his movie-star glamour between a little makeup dirt and a tastefully worn overcoat in Time Out of Mind. As he wanders the New York streets, largely aimlessly except for some tentative attempts to reconnect with his estranged bartender daughter (Jena Malone), we get a feel for dangers, bureaucratic webs, and crippling loneliness that comprise the life of one of society’s unseen.
Let’s address this first- Gere really is entirely invested in his performance, imbuing it with subtle tics and easy to empathize with in a Hollywood formula fashion (as opposed to a raw, authentic one- but he can’t help that he’s Pretty Man).
Pretty Woman’s had it a big rougher in the ensuing years, though…
The real star of the show, however, is Oren Moverman, a great screenwriter (I’m Not There, Love & Mercy) who’s yet to really get his due as a director (The Messenger, Rampart). Here he has a clear modus operandi, which, while somewhat obvious, is really goddamn effective. Almost none of the exceptionally well framed, lit, and lensed shots of Gere are full-on. Instead, he’s always glimpsed behind barriers or obstructions, through glass or shot as a tiny figure at a distance, easy to miss or subconsciously ignore. We search the frame for him because this is his movie, but in real life none of us would likely even register his presence.
Moverman also largely resists the impulse to write a typical narrative arc or three act plot progression. Instead, we wander at an unhurried pace with Gere, through frightening, overstuffed shelters, fleeting relationships with other homeless people, a hopeless morass of red tape (guard that social security card with your life), and onwards to a surprisingly potent and cathartic ending.
Gere, like any recognizable Hollywood star, really was the wrong choice for this material. Shit, his hair, cropped short and carefully tussled in a matter that must have taken at least 30 minutes in the makeup chair, looks better than mine ever has. As much as this feeling fades as the movie goes along, and as committed as Gere clearly is, Moverman really should have cast a non-pro, or Barkhad Abdi. He would’ve dominated this role.
Besides, he actually has an Oscar nomination to his name. (Ohhhhhh snap!)
Time Out of Mind genuinely immerses you into and makes you consider the thousand indignities the homeless suffer each day, despite it’s movie star handicap.