Sad ‘Time Out of Mind’ wanders the streets

Tom Long
The Detroit News

There’s an air of confusion and despair to “Time Out of Mind” that mirrors the world of its lead character.

That would be George Hammond (Richard Gere), a homeless man who wanders through New York City, digging through trash for food, trying to sleep on park benches, occasionally scoring some money and getting drunk. George is mentally fuzzy at best, he has no identification and can barely carry on a conversation.

Director and co-writer Oren Moverman (“The Messenger,” “Rampart”) leans toward the gritty and he lets this film open in hazy form, with George simply wandering the streets, overhearing bits of conversation that float by, killing time on the subway, being harassed by punks, sleeping in hospital waiting rooms.

Eventually we glean that George has an estranged daughter (Jena Malone) who works as a bartender and George gets it together enough to register at a homeless shelter and claim a nightly bed. There he is befriended/accosted by a motor-mouthed fellow named Dixon (an impressive and unrecognizable Ben Vereen) and they become, as one character says, like “an old married couple” walking the streets, Dixon talking nonstop, George quiet and dazed.

Dixon tries to steer George towards some sort of security — food stamps, social security, something, but without ID, no one wants to work with him. Finally, three quarters of the way through the movie, some of the bare bone details of George’s former life emerge. But it’s all still fractured and addled, like George.

The question here is how well fractured and addled works dramatically. Yes, the film reflects George’s state of mind, but that state of mind is neither terribly compelling nor enlightening. “Time Out of Mind” is consciously disoriented and slow, to its own ultimate detriment.

‘Time Out of Mind’


Not rated

Running time: 120 minutes