Time Out of Mind (3 stars)

Time Out of Mind

Richard Gere ditches the charisma in this nuanced drama about a homeless man

Oren Moverman’s latest drama is a lingering, meditative thing – though overlong at two hours. Richard Gere plays well against type as George, a homeless man on the streets of New York City, whose existence seems to alternate between looking for a drink, finding a warm, dry place to sleep, and following his estranged daughter Maggie (Jena Malone).

Unlike Peter Mullan’s loveable pensioner in recent British homelessness drama Hector, George is more of an antihero. Gere’s usual charisma is completely stripped back, his trademark winning smile only appearing when he wants to bed Karen (Kyra Sedgwick), another homeless New Yorker. George is a quiet loner, but when he gets a spot at a local shelter he meets and – reluctantly – befriends the gregarious Dixon (Ben Vereen), whose presence in his life inadvertently helps George face his demons.

It’s a worthy effort, but feels monotone – perhaps a deliberate attempt to reflect the colourlessness of its protagonist’s everyday existence. Yet, without any major plot developments, there’s little to invest in, and George’s general dourness doesn’t leave much on which to hang your emotions.

Time Out of Mind is Moverman's third outing as writer-director (after The Messenger and Rampart), though he’s penned far more screenplays, including the acclaimed I’m Not There. and Love & Mercy. Fittingly, the movie’s greatest strength is its dialogue – not George’s, but that of the people in the city around him. Throughout, we hear snippets of conversations from passersby in which Moverman nails the bickering back-and-forth between lovers and business associates alike, and it’s in these moments that the film sings. Add to that the stark way he depicts the bureaucratic nightmare of getting a new social security number, and it’s clear that this is a filmmaker with an eye for telling powerful stories in nuanced detail – even if Time Out of Mind may be a little too nuanced for its own good.

Selected release from Fri 4 Mar.

Time Out of Mind

  • 3 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 1h 58min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Oren Moverman
  • Cast: Richard Gere, Jena Malone, Kyra Sedgwick, Ben Vereen
  • UK release: 4 March 2016

George (Gere) is a homeless man on the streets of New York City, who divides his time between looking for a drink, finding a good place to sleep and following his estranged daughter (Malone). Worthy and nuanced, with a stripped-back performance from Gere, its lack of plot development make it dour and hard to invest in.