As noted by Scott Tobias in The Dissolve today, TIFF is a place where actors frequently try to rehabilitate or redefine their image after years of missteps. That’s happened this year both successfully (Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”) and not-so-successfully (Adam Sandler). Joining them is Richard Gere, whose performance in Oren Moverman’s “Time Out of Mind” sees him totally removed from the kind of roles he’s known for.
Gere, who’s come to embody affluence and charm even in his more morally hazy roles (“Arbitrage”), stars as George, a homeless man struggling on the streets of New York. Moverman notably shot Gere from a distance, often through obstructions, to give the film a documentary-like feel and show how even Richard Gere could be ignored by the (clearly unaware) passersby when he’s dressed shabbily. There’s a split on whether the choice works in isolating Gere or if it has an unfortunate distancing effect, but most of them take an admiring tone for Gere’s latest attempt to challenge himself as an actor, with some noting that the film is more effective precisely because he’s cast against type.
Justin Chang, Variety
In that regard, the fact that we never fully forget we’re watching Richard Gere as a homeless man is no more problematic than the fact that we never quite forgot we were watching Robert Redford as a sailor in “All Is Lost,” to cite another recent feat of movie-star acting at its most stripped-to-the-bone. Indeed, that we’re so accustomed to perceiving Gere as the sleek, silver-haired man of business and privilege only serves to reinforce the idea that poverty is not strictly the realm of those who are born into it; watching George onscreen, you can’t help but imagine if this could be the future fate of the white-collar crook the actor played in “Arbitrage.” Read more.
A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club
It’s heartening to see a hot-shot filmmaker blow his capital on such an uncommercial venture, and there’s real value to getting an inside look at how NYC helps (or doesn’t help) those without a place to rest their heads. But the material needed a headliner who could carry the emotional freight, and Gere doesn’t get there. Also, the way Moverman shoots the film casts his creative motives under some suspicion: Filming from odd angles, through doors and into kitty-corner windows, he often seems to be selecting the least intuitive angle possible—a strategy that puts the focus on his showily unconventional style, instead of on the actor and character. Read more.
Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist
In a performance that will be mistakenly be hailed as a transformation, it’s Gere’s immersion in the part that is remarkable. The symbiotic collaboration between Moverman and Gere is evidenced than the actor’s committed, subtle, and stoic turn. “Time Out Of Mind” is a film of tremendous patience and pace, as it wants you to inhabit every minute, day, hour and year of homelessness. But it’s through that considered approach that the reveal of George’s deep self-hatred and low self-esteem carries an extraordinary power; time has worn his sense of self to the point of despair that’s deeply moving. Read more.
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
Moverman and cinematographer Bobby Bukowski establish a visual approach that is more than just documentary-like, as the widescreen images lean toward the bold and carefully composed. At the same time, however, they have a photo-journalistic feel to them in that most of the shots use very long lenses that make the actors look spied upon from a distance, often through panes of glass or other obstructions…As moderately interesting as this is from a purely photographic perspective, however, the technique actually serves to objectify and further distance an already unknowable character from the viewer. George is a kind of everyman among the homeless — he’d be better off with a number than a name, in fact — but the specifics about him are extremely limited. Read more.
Ben Nicholson, CineVue
Moverman and his regular cinematographer Bobby Bukowski conjure a tangible sense of George’s isolation through their visual language – always shooting through windows or from across the street. It’s not a technique that distances him from the audience so much as it disconnects him from the people around him while simultaneously intensifying his envelopment by the cityscape around him. Often free of dialogue, we nonetheless hear the clinking of cups and the general chatter of the patrons of a coffee shop as we observe George out on the sidewalk. George’s invisibility is really the central theme here and Gere does a fantastic job of embodying this broken man. Taciturn at best and always difficult, he exists in a constant state of distraction and denial that form the backbone of the character study that replaces traditional narrative. Read more.
Scott Tobias, The Dissolve
Seeing Gere, the elegant bachelor of The Cotton Club and Pretty Woman, reduced to sleeping on park benches and shuffling through shelter protocols is a different kind of image rehabilitation, one that restores his credibility as a serious actor. But Gere is often overwhelmed by Moverman’s crowded compositions and hyper-aggressive soundscapes, which the director offers in lieu of anything so gauche as drama or incident…The result is an impressive and rigorous film about the condition of being one of the city’s unfortunates, but it’s also a tad boring. Read more.
Time Out Of Mind is a brilliant piece of filmmaking and perhaps the best brand new film at TIFF this year.
— David Poland (@DavidPoland) September 8, 2014