Richard Gere plays a homeless man in New York City in the movie Time Out Of Mind. In the film, Gere is “George,” a man who has been left homeless due to a variety of circumstances.
A reviewer in the Memphis Commercial Appeal describes George as a “victim of societal and economic violence but also of his own dubious choices.” The movie was shot on the streets of New York, and the people passing by Gere as he begs for money on the street are real New Yorkers.
Most of them walked past Gere, even as director Oren Moverman was filming, revealing a sad truth: many of us, maybe even most, don’t notice the homeless among us. On Thursday, Gere posted about the experience on his Facebook page, saying “People would just past by me and look at me in disgrace. [sic]”
Time Out Of Mind, called a “semi-documentary” by the Chicago Sun-Times, shows how easy it is for a person to fall into poverty and homelessness. There is very only a thin thread of a plot, but as the Sun-Times reviewer observes, the movie does an excellent job of showing George’s “sense of stunned befuddlement” at his situation. We see him as he tries to navigate the confusing array of social services, trying to get help, but seemingly coming away more frustrated and bewildered than ever.
As the film progresses, the audience learns that George was once a husband and father who had a good job. Now he drifts aimlessly, alone in a crowd of people, on the city streets. Things that most of us never think about are issues for George, such as finding a quiet space. George is desperate for quiet, but no matter where he goes, he can’t find it. Not in the homeless shelter, not in the hospital ER where he goes in search of a place to sleep, certainly not on the bustling streets of New York City.
George is surrounded by people, surrounded by the sound of conversations, but he has no connection to any of them. At one point he says quietly, to himself, “I don’t know anybody anymore.”
Gere was so moved by his experience during the filming of Time Out Of Mind that, as he relates in his Facebook post, he walked around and gave food and money to the homeless people he encountered. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” he says.
Time Out Of Mind was released in a limited number of theaters on September 9, and is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.
Here’s the trailer: