First Hit: An insightful slow paced film that provides an interesting window into homelessness.
The film opens with cornucopia of noise and a view out of a trashed apartment in NYC. The noise continues through the entire film.
The background conversations and noise had me probing the screen looking to see who was talking or where the noise was coming from respectively. It was relentless and for George (Richard Gere) his 10 years of homeless or, being “temporarily without a home”, the noise adds to his inability to be clear and function. At times he’s clear and functional while at other times he succumbs to the fogginess of his despair and confusion.
As the film moved along, I felt as though this film was made by shooting Gere unrecognized wandering the streets and through homeless shelters of NYC. It was as if the cameras were shooting him from a distance and the people in the streets had no idea it was Gere. We learn during the film that his daughter Maggie (Jena Malone) doesn’t want to have anything to do with him and his attempts to see her are rebuffed.
The back story is shared with fellow homeless man Dixon (Ben Vereen). Dixon can’t stop talking which adds to the noise in George’s life. During one of their walks George tells Dixon what he remembers, his wife dying from cancer, his losing his job, drinking, losing his home, his daughter being raised elsewhere and going down a rabbit hole.
The scenes in the shelters and many of them on the street were really strong. When watching this film, one has to be patient as it moves at its own slow pace and everything unfolds slowly and realistically, just as in life.
Gere is really great. I loved his looking intelligent and at home within himself, yet barely holding on to what is next – wonderful juxtapositions. Malone is very good as Gere’s daughter. She has an edge of anger, sadness, and determination to not being dragged into George’s life again. Vereen is fantastic. His constant conscious stream of dialogue is perfectly like some of the homeless people I’ve befriended. Steve Buscemi as a building manager was perfect. Oren Moverman wrote the screen play and also directed the film. At first I was annoyed at the noise in the film, but quickly realized how it really made this film work.
Overall: At the end of the film, I felt I’d been through a really good experience and got a view into homelessness.