TIME OUT OF MIND, drama, not rated, The Screen, 2 chiles
Oren Moverman is a screenwriter with a few pretty good credits (including 2007’s I’m Not There, and this year’s Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy) to his name. But what he really wants to do is direct. He’s done it before, helming his own screenplays effectively in
The Messenger (2009) and less so in Rampart (2011). For Time Out of Mind, Moverman was enlisted to rewrite and direct by star/producer Richard Gere, who has long owned the rights to the property originally developed by screenwriter Jeffrey Caine (The Constant Gardener).
There may be a reason Time Out of Mind has been kicking around so long. The story of George (Gere), a homeless man who has lost his bearings and a few of his ball bearings after a family tragedy, is not fertile dramatic material. George doesn’t talk much, and he doesn’t do much, thus robbing the movie of most of its opportunity for dialogue and action. He sits and stares a lot, vaguely aware of the passing parade of sights and sounds of New York City as it swirls around him. His situation is poignant and his plight is desperate, but his movie is stagnant.
Moverman and cinematographer Bobby Bukowski shoot a good deal of the movie through glass. We spend a lot of time looking at George through windows. This may be intended to emphasize his isolation, but it ends up calling attention to itself as a device. The extreme long shot, where we get Where’s Waldo? opportunities to pick George out on a crowded city street, serves the same purpose, with the same result.
It’s not till past the halfway mark of this two-hour movie that the garrulous Dixon (Ben Vereen) shows up, bringing an infusion of muchneeded life and chatter to the table. He’s a fellow denizen of the homeless shelter where George has found a bed, and he attaches himself to his new friend like a talking barnacle, helping George navigate the bureaucracy of homelessness, and drawing out of him the few hints that we ever get as to how he has fallen through the cracks of society. Kyra Sedgwick contributes an interlude as a homeless woman with a different kind of comfort to offer, and Jena Malone (The Hunger Games) is the estranged daughter who wants nothing to do with George.
Time Out of Mind is a noble attempt at exposing a desperate subject. Gere is fully invested in the hopelessness of the character, though you can’t help occasionally thinking he might be Jamie Dimon on a Casual Friday at JPMorgan Chase. The filmmakers’ commitment to exposing the miserable anonymity of the homeless may be admirable, but it isn’t cinematic. — Jonathan Richards
Through the pane: Richard Gere