Time Out of Mind Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Richard Gere, Jena Malone
  • Director: Oren Moverman
  • Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • Release Date: December 15, 2015
  • Run Time: 121 minutes



            Narratively speaking, Time Out of Mind is so simplistic that I was certain the concept would never hold for the two-hour running-time. Then I began to notice the stylistic choices filmmaker Oren Moverman was making and realized that this is a film that needs to take its time for the approach to be effective. It is also a story made for the cinematic art form, at least according to Siegfried Kracauer’s list of the medium’s unique functions in his essential work, Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality.


    In this study, he examines the subjects that film is best equipped to reveal, including “things normally unseen.” This includes large and small subjects, seen through the use of close-up shots or the expansiveness of a wide-angled shot, but it also includes subjects that Kracauer labels as “Blind Spots of the Mind.” He breaks this category down even further, listing the various things we have grown accustomed to ignoring in everyday life. In a sub-category he lists as “The refuse,” Kracauer offers this description:


    Many objects remain unnoticed simply because it never occurs to us to look their way. Most people turn their backs on garbage cans, the dirt underfoot, the waste they leave behind. Films have no inhibitions; on the contrary, what we ordinarily prefer to ignore proves attractive to them precisely because of this common neglect.


    As I watched Time Out of Mind, a film about the daily existence of a homeless man living in New York City, I couldn’t help but think that Kracauer would have been as impressed with Moverman’s work as I was.


            Not only is the subject and protagonist of Time Out of Mind a homeless man, Moverman’s stylistic approach to filming him effectively shows the way society turns a blind eye to their existence. From the very opening sequence on, George (Richard Gere) is always in the background, often seen through glass or in a distance. Even when nothing specific can be seen in the foreground, there are always suggestions that he is little more than a fixture in the settings that others exist in. We see shadows of objects in the foreground and often hear bits of conversations occurring in the vicinity of the camera, all while George occupies the background.


            This is effective in conveying the idea that we often dismiss homeless people as a societal blemish we would rather not see, perhaps out of fear that we may one day find ourselves so unfortunate. At the same time, it also forces the narrative to become tied to concepts and mood in a way that dismisses story as secondary. While patient viewers will be rewarded by the effectiveness of this experience and a vanity-free performance from Gere, many unaccustomed to the slower pace of the art film may tire of the repetition long before the end credits.


            At the heart of the film are a few subtle interactions George has with his daughter (Jena Malone), who is jaded after years of being disappointed by her father. George also builds an unlikely friendship with a fellow member of the shelter he resides in (played by Broadway actor Ben Vereen), though the companionship often appears more irritating than helpful to George. There is not much in terms of plot, though there are some story points involving George’s struggle to get help when he no longer has any form of ID. Mostly this is a film about characters, with a handful of impressive actors playing minor roles. Some meet George with kindness and some with animosity, while most just seem to ignore him. There are stories from the filmmaking process of tourists passing by Gere in costume, completely ignoring the movie star because of how he looked.


            The Blu-ray special features include a commentary track with Moverman and Gere, as well as a brief featurette. There is also a PSA about homelessness featuring Gere, as well as the film’s trailer. Though there is not much in terms of flashy effects, the cinematography from Bobby Bukowski is greatly enhanced by the high definition presentation. It may be slow moving, but this is certainly visually-reliant filmmaking.


    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10

    Historical Significance:  6/10

    Special Features: 5.5/10

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