“Oren Moverman‘s Time Out of Mind wants to boost our awareness of the homeless and make us think about the way that homelessness can erode a person’s sense of worth and make him feel invisible,” begins Elise Nakhnikian at Slant. “Throughout, we simply walk a few miles in the shoes of George (Richard Gere), a New Yorker who’s just lost the last of a series of tenuous perches. The film isn’t preachy, but its indie-movie artiness sometimes get in the way of its noble mission, making us think more about the techniques being used than the effects they’re meant to create.”
“Seeing Gere, the elegant bachelor of The Cotton Club and Pretty Woman, reduced to sleeping on park benches and shuffling through shelter protocols is a different kind of image rehabilitation, one that restores his credibility as a serious actor,” writes the Dissolve‘s Scott Tobias. “But Gere is often overwhelmed by Moverman’s crowded compositions and hyper-aggressive soundscapes, which the director offers in lieu of anything so gauche as drama or incident. In contrast to Heaven Knows What, another sonically dissonant portrait of homeless NYC addicts, Moverman wants mostly to detail the condition of being on the streets rather than giving Gere a motive or the energy to achieve his goals.”
“Long regarded as one of independent film’s most innovative screenwriters—he wrote the experimental Bob Dylan picture I’m Not There…—Moverman, 48, embarked on a well-received directorial path beginning five years ago with the military-bereavement drama The Messenger,” writes Steven Zeitchik in a profile for the Los Angeles Times. “He followed it up two years later with the Los Angeles Police Department corruption tale Rampart. Told with unsettling intimacy, those pictures, each starring Woody Harrelson, revealed a director keen to examine the failure of institutions and the phenomenon of wounded masculinity often nestled within it.” Moverman tells Zeitchik about sending Gere out to Astor Place in NYC with an empty cup to beg for change. “‘Richard stood there for 40 minutes. No one gave him a cent. No one even recognized him,’ Moverman said. ‘And that proved the whole point: The homeless are all around us and we don’t see them.'”
“It’s heartening to see a hot-shot filmmaker blow his capital on such an uncommercial venture,” writes the AV Club‘s A.A. Dowd, “and there’s real value to getting an inside look at how NYC helps (or doesn’t help) those without a place to rest their heads. But the material needed a headliner who could carry the emotional freight, and Gere doesn’t get there.”
But for Variety‘s Justin Chang, this is “one of his more remarkable performances” and Time Out of Mind is “a haunting piece of urban poetry”—”New York neorealism par excellence.” We first see Gere “awakening in a bathtub in an empty and dilapidated apartment, where he’s promptly thrown out by the building manager (Steve Buscemi, one of several pros, like Kyra Sedgwick, Michael K. Williams and Jeremy Strong, who blend seamlessly into these nondescript environs). Emerging into the harsh New York daylight sporting several days’ worth of scruff and a few unexplained forehead scratches, George has nowhere to go in particular, except in search of his next meal and place to sleep. He wanders the streets, rides the subway and lingers on park benches, occasionally popping into a nearby bar or laundromat to see a young woman named Maggie (Jena Malone). From the way she rebuffs his attempts, we almost immediately grasp that she’s his estranged daughter.”
Back on the other hand, the Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy finds “Gere’s character so lacking in memory and mental clarity, the film provides very little for an audience to latch on to.”
“In a performance that will be mistakenly be hailed as a transformation, it’s Gere’s immersion in the part that is remarkable,” finds Kevin Jagernauth, who also interviews Moverman for the Playlist.
More from Jason Bailey (Flavorwire), Zade Constantine (Film Stage, B-) and Glenn Dunks (Film Experience). And Nigel M. Smith talks with Gere for Indiewire.
Update, 10/8: Julien Allen for Reverse Shot: “The film seems to be saying: if it could happen to Richard Gere, it could happen to anyone, so be careful, because that includes you. Such a single purpose film lives and dies by the audience’s ability to relate—even in some small way—to its protagonist.” But “the scope of Gere’s performance is limited: it is not to explore, but merely to illustrate. It is this surface illustration of a predicament, as opposed to any attempt to uncover or examine the character’s psychology, which makes the film feel attenuated—and reduces Gere to a plastic figurine.”
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