Time Out of Mind movie poster
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Time Out of Mind
Time Out of Mind movie poster

Time Out of Mind Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Back when Oren Moverman was filming Time Out of Mind, a story emerged that Richard Gere was so convincing as a homeless man in New York that a French tourist wandered onto set and handed him a piece of leftover pizza. Such behavior is understandable, because Gere delivers his best performance in years and is nearly unrecognizable as a downtrodden, emotionally lost man seeking to reconcile with his daughter (Jena Malone).

Moverman, who made the emotionally intense The Messenger a few years ago, pulls back with Time Out of Mind, opting for restrained storytelling and under-the-surface intensity to allow Gere to flex his acting muscles. And flex he does--Gere immerses himself in the role and manages to slowly chips away at your steely exterior, without you even realizing it.

What will limit both Gere and the movie itself from broader recognition is just how restrained the film is. The movie operates on the slimmest of plots, with Overman preferring to portray Gere doing not much else than dealing with the various things homeless people have to deal with on a day to day basis while navigating a convoluted and demeaning network of services and bureaucracies designed to help people like him. The movie is mildly interesting throughout, but both plot and acting inflections are so nuanced and subtle that you probably won’t sit through it thinking, “Wow, that was mindblowing.”

Not a lot of people will see Time Out of Mind, and a percentage that do will find the movie slow, even boring. It is certainly slow, and at two hours it’s probably 20 minutes too long given the material. I was never bored, but I was rarely enthralled, either.

Despite its shortcomings, Time Out of Mind is not without purpose, and Moverman finally shows his cards in a final exchange between Gere and Malone that is surprisingly emotional--though I would understand if others walk away shrugging their shoulders. The scene operates in the same restrained style like the rest of the movie, but the stakes are a little higher, the emotional intensity a bit more vivid, the distress finally visible on both actors’ faces. It’s a powerful scene, perhaps the only truly memorable scene of the entire movie.

Time Out of Mind is largely Richard Gere’s show and he takes full advantage, though the direction by Overman should not be overlooked. Nonetheless, the film’s insistence to hold back so much over such a long running time means it will cater mostly to critics and cinephiles--regular audiences won’t find much to appreciate.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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