Good, Humane Story;
Let’s Take Care Of Each Other;
In Public Settings.
There are people who will surely be soured on this movie because of the heavy handedness of the storytelling and its ability to sound a bit preachy. But it’s humanitarian message is a strong one and resonates well, holding up a mirror to all of us and asking us to view homelessness from a more compassionate perspective. Emilio Estevez has crafted a very solid film with an excellent cast and a lot of heart.
Estevez, Jeffrey Wright, Alec Baldwin, Jena Malone, Christian Slater, Michael K Williams and Taylor Schilling all do very good work, and the script gives them all characters with a lot behind them. You can always tell when a weak script needs good actors to elevate it, but everything seemed to be at a more level playing field here. They all have a full grasp of their characters and where they need to take them, which speaks to their abilities as well as the script and direction. There isn’t a weak link to be found among them.
The movie admittedly sags a bit in the middle act, struggling to keep up its momentum for a bit before a strong finish. The editing is solid, but a trim would probably help it flow a bit better overall. Estevez and his cinematographer Juan Miguel Azpiroz frame the shots well, studying the faces that give the film its identity. The execution is empathetic and admirable.
It’s easy to draw comparisons between the movie and reality. When characters are discussing the nature of civil liberties vs public safety, it’s impossible not to think about the current climate, especially with regards to national security. It reads like a straight-from-the-headlines true story, and although it isn’t, there are certainly true elements to it, such as the media’s ability to fan the flames of sensationalism and our collective willingness to overlook people and issues that we see as beneath us. There are truths too ugly for us to want to see, so we put on our blinders and walk forward until someone impedes our path and forces us to see. That’s what Estevez is trying to do here, and the title says it all. We are all the public, so let’s embrace that fact and take care of each other.
The Public is Written and Directed By Emilio Estevez
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