Richard Gere gives a credible and sincere performance as a mentally ill, homeless New Yorker in this powerful social drama.
To the wider world, Gere’s battered alcoholic George is almost invisible. Indeed, with the camera keeping its distance, it often takes us a moment to find him in the frame amid the bustling city. Writer-director Oren Moverman is in no rush to fill us in on the circumstances that have led George to his present existence, shuffling and stumbling from illegal squat to street bench to homeless shelter.
Emotionally buttoned-up and largely silent, he keeps his thoughts to himself – unlike loquacious former jazz musician Dixon (Ben Vereen), the fellow homeless man who badgers him into becoming his friend. And George mostly proves unwilling or unable to respond when others – including the authorities – offer him a helping hand.
It’s easy to imagine a different film courting sympathy for a protagonist such as George in a bid to tug our heartstrings, but this drama is all the more impressive and moving for its restraint.