Review: Time Out Of Mind (TIFF 2014)
PLOT: A man (Richard Gere) tries to come to terms with his homelessness during a cruel New York winter.
REVIEW: While no one would ever call THE MESSSENGER or RAMPART conventional films, thereís no doubt that Oren Movermanís TIME OUT OF MIND is his most daring film to date. A veritť style exploration of urban homelessness, TIME OUT OF MIND is often a very difficult film to watch. Assuming a hazy vibe that makes you feel like youíre sleepwalking through it, itís a movie that demands a certain amount of patience from the audience. In fact, it took me almost the entire first act before I realized what exactly Moverman was doing with his film.
While this certainly isnít the first movie about homelessness, or even the only one to play at TIFF this year (SHELTER), itís unique in that it really does put you in the mindset of a man whoís kept out on the street not only by poverty, but by serious mental illness. If youíve spent most of your life living in the city, youíll be able to relate to the fact that people often walk around with blinders on in regards to the homeless. Theyíre invisible. TIME OUT OF MIND is the first film Iíve ever seen that really conveys that, but by adopting the opposite approach. It has big time actors in small parts (Steve Buscemi, Michael K. Williams, etc) whose faces we never get a good look at. Rather the focus is strictly on Gere, with the camera almost never off him for the entire two hour film. Our gaze is fixed to the thing we never pay attention to, while the things that would normally distract us (like the stars playing the other parts) fade into the background, giving this a weird vibe that makes you feel like youíre in some kind of a daze throughout.
While some might take issue with having a big movie star like Richard Gere play the lead, his performance here ranks as the finest of his career. The buzz is that many scenes of Gere on the street were shot with hidden cameras, with no one recognizing him. While this sounds like hype, Gere is so strong in the part that he utterly disappears into his character, to the extent that you almost forget youíre watching him. Itís a really bold performance and certainly one that deserves some attention.
One thing that might keep TIME OUT OF MIND from reaching more than a limited art-house audience is the fact that itís essentially plot less. The only real character development we get is when itís suggested that heís the estranged father of a local bartender (Jena Malone) that he follows around here and there. It actually becomes easier to watch as you settle into the rhythm, and once the amazing Ben Vereen comes in as Gereís loudmouth shelter bunkmate, the film begins to get slightly more focused, with the two playing brilliantly off each other.
TIME OUT OF MIND obviously isnít going to be for everyone, but it canít be denied that itís one of the more audacious and unconventional films to play TIFF this year, and Gereís acting is too good to ignore. It demands a viewerís patience, but its well worth watching, and a major accomplishment for Moverman, whoís proving himself a major voice in contemporary American Indie cinema.