TIFF 2014: Time Out of Mind Review

Time Out of Mind

Special Presentations

I’ll admit a bit of a bias here since I once went through a period where I was homeless, so on some level I think the experience of what it’s like living on city streets in the latest film from Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Rampart) is a bit too skewed and sanitized. Beyond that, it’s also just not a very good film; the kind where there’s seemingly no point to anything that’s going on and everything is out of sync to an astounding degree.

There’s no plot and no real characters except for one: George, played by Richard Gere in one of the most obvious “look at me” bids for an Oscar I’ve ever seen, a man who has been homeless on the streets of New York for quite some time. Moverman simply wants to follow him on his day to day journeys, from getting booted from a flat where he was squatting to eventually trying to get an ID and get his shit together once and for all.


There are a few things that Moverman quite importantly gets right: how terrible shelters are and why they aren’t preferable to the streets and how hard it is to get back on your feet in a bureaucratic North American society without documentation.

And yet, those details could have been gotten right by anyone. Everything else is flat out wrong, and made by people who clearly did research into the subject but never gave a damn to make anything of it.

Gere has to play George as a cipher for most of the film, which means his character’s cleanliness and evasiveness could be a result of not having been on the streets for too long and a struggle to maintain humanity. When the reveal comes that he has been a fuck up for a long time, nothing about his work here hold water. Also, he’s never tired and weary enough to be believable.

Gere’s performance could be salvaged by a better director, but Moverman is content to shoot most conversations through windows to give the film a grating “we’re all outsiders looking in” approach that grates to no end. He’s distancing himself and the audience from the material, keeping them safe and trotting out a litany of cameos from actors in thanklessly brief roles. This film demands grit, not flash and style.


It’s the ultimate in good intentioned Hollywood filmmaking made by people that are clueless. Expect me to have a lot more to say if this film sees release.


Saturday, September 13th, 6:00pm, VISA Screening Room (Elgin)

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