Living in Manhattan, one frequently comes across homeless men and women living on the street and seeking places to sleep where they won’t be bothered, or perhaps begging with signs announcing their desperate condition. There are shelters, but there is a reluctance to go to them because of fears that their meager belongings will be stolen by others, or because of various psychological reasons. “Time Out of Mind,” directed by Oren Moverman and presented at the 2014 New York Film Festival, expertly takes us into this world, and the coup is that Richard Gere has been cast as the to-be-pitied homeless man upon whom the film focuses.
Gere morphs into George, whose life has become a shambles. He is broke, depressed, ill and estranged from his daughter and from life itself. Gere gives an absolutely convincing performance as this unfortunate human being, all the more impressive because George is so far removed from the suave characters Gere has played.
Although he dominates the film, Gere is not the only asset. Along the way George meets the excellent Ben Vereen as Dixon, long in the ranks of the homeless and a guy who knows the ropes about survival. Dixon is a major force who gives Gere a measure of hope against the odds that have tumbled him into the depths.
Moverman’s poignant film educates us on the tragedies in our midst. The film becomes a veritable tour through this aspect of our society. The red tape encountered when George tries to get assistance is one more obstacle. The routines in the shelter are also depicted. The atmosphere created would seem to be right on target, and the film can make one think twice about passing a homeless person asking for a handout.
Another key character is Jena Malone as George’s daughter, who has every reason to shun him. Their encounter toward the end of the film is deeply moving as everything hangs in the balance for George. Reviewed October 22, 2014.