Time Out of Mind

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[in my best old man voice]: When I was a kid, Time out of Mind was the name of a Bob Dylan album, and Richard Gere was a good looking, leading man! He wasn’t a homeless guy walking the streets!

And movies didn’t meander. They had character development. They were entertaining.

Writer/director Oren Moverman impressed me with his sometimes slow pacing in the incredible The Messenger (Woody Harrelson). It made my Top 10 list the year it came out.

It’s admirable what Moverman tried to do with this film, but at two hours long, it’s just not all that interesting. The audience will get so bored they’ll stop caring. It’s also hard to care about a character who has a hard time remembering anything.

Some of the long shots are interesting. They invite you to view background folks you might not normally pay attention to. There’s also a way the camera observes his plight that’s amusing. At first.

Gere’s performance is okay, although you never really buy him as a homeless guy. Perhaps his hair could’ve been longer and greasier, or a dirty beard.

The movie deserves credit for showing us how terrible shelters can be, yet it never gets preachy in how it’s presenting the homeless. We also don’t get the usual stereotypes.

Some of the scenes almost worked. Steve Buscemi as a building manager that throws him out of an apartment being renovated. A run-in with Kyra Sedgwick, who Gere thinks he knows.

There are administrators at shelters always questioning him (are you on drugs? what’s your social security number?). It makes you wonder how someone on the street, that might be completely out of their mind, would even answer these things.

We may have walked by homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk downtown, but when watching them sleep in this — with the loud traffic sounds all around them, or people harassing them — you wonder how they could ever doze off (perhaps the booze Gere is often sipping helps).

There’s also a degree of interest hearing couples walk by, and being privy to small portions of their conversation. You wonder if Gere hears any of it, and reminisces to a time when he had such relationships.

The interactions with his estranged daughter don’t go anywhere. When Ben Vereen shows up as a homeless jazz musician (so he says) that won’t shut up — things pick up. But only slightly. It’s going to sound weird to say this, since I wasn’t fond of the film, but I’d like to see Vereen get a Supporting Actor nomination for this. He felt so authentic in the part and never once overacts. Even in the few scenes where he loses his temper.

This is the type of artsy movie that’s different, and praised by critics for being so. The fact is, it lacks any real drama. It was a wasted opportunity.

I was disappointed by Moverman’s Rampart a few years ago, and after loving The Messenger so much…I think there’s still hope.

For those interested, this is only playing in town at the Digital Gym in North Park.

1 ½ stars out of 5.