Oren Moverman Talks Homelessness, Realism in Richard Gere's 'Time Out of Mind'

Art Streiber

The Hollywood writer-director insists most Americans, squeezed financially, consider the homeless failures and look right through them as passers-by.

Oren Moverman isn't bothered his latest movie Time Out of Mind has been criticized for too little backstory, with Richard Gere playing a homeless man on the streets of New York City estranged from his daughter.

The veteran Hollywood screenwriter and director said character exposition would have little use in his latest movie, as Americans in real life mostly look right through the homeless and distance themselves from society's disadvantaged. "It would have been so much easier to create a backstory in a classical way and dismiss it ultimately, like he [Gere's character] was fired from his job, and it's his fault for doing that, and if he lost his mind because he drank too much, maybe that's also his fault," Moverman told The Hollywood Reporter while attending the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

"Any kind of spelled-out backstory would have been a cheat on our intention to look at a person you don't know anything about, and try to find compassion for him by seeing him, as opposed to 100 percent understanding him," he added after Time Out of Mind opened the 50th edition of the European festival out of competition.

IFC Films earlier bought the U.S. rights to the film, which bowed in Toronto. Gere, also attending Karlovy Vary, said Moverman kept cameras at a distance and technicians out of sight during the physical shoot for Time Out of Mind to help make his character, George Hammond, invisible to all around him on the streets of New York City.

"So no one was aware of the camera. It was only me out on the streets with real people. Nothing was set up. There was nothing where we had extras trained to walk through. … It was real," Gere said. Moverman said society gives little credence to financial misfortune, substance abuse or mental health issues helping to explain homelessness.

"They basically think this is that person's fault, there's something wrong and it's not my problem, and I shouldn't be feeling guilty over this situation, nor should I be contributing to their life," he said. "Things are hard for everyone. So this makes it painful and complicated and layered and not something people want to deal with."

Time Out of Mind also features Ben Vereen, Jena Malone, Kyra Sedgwick and Steve Buscemi. Gere produced the indie drama alongside Blackbird Films’ Lawrence Inglee, Caroline Kaplan, Edward Walson, Cold Iron Pictures’ Miranda Bailey and River Road Entertainment’s Bill Pohlad.

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