Review – The Public (2019)

THE PUBLIC

They say you should never assume because it makes…well, you know…but, I imagine it’s safe to assume that everyone has a charity they care about. It’s a part of human nature to care about various movements that exist. For me, there are two charities I care deeply about. The first is Riley’s Children’s Hospital, but children hospitals in general as well. The second is a cause I’ve only recently cared about, and that is homelessness. As a part of my externship leaving college, I spent a month or two working at a homeless shelter and was able to meet some of the greatest people ever, which was a wild surprise to me. Later, I got into my own messy situations that nearly put me in their shoes, and I was able to tell firsthand how scary it really is to be homeless. I haven’t seen a lot of films about homelessness, especially not like The Public, which I honestly think they painted the picture spot on. Let’s get into it.

The story revolves around the library patrons, many of whom are homeless, mentally ill and marginalized, as well as an exhausted and overwhelmed staff of librarians who often build emotional connections and a sense of obligation to care for those regular patrons. At odds with library officials over how to handle the extreme weather event, the Patrons turn the building into a homeless shelter for the night by staging an “Occupy” sit in. What begins as an act of civil disobedience becomes a stand off with police and a rush-to-judgment media constantly speculating about what’s really happening

IMDb

Before I get into it, let me first point out the insane level of talent in this film. For no apparent reason whatsoever, this movie is filled to the brim with notable faces. Naturally, I’m not a fan of ensemble films because it almost always feels like they are using actors and their notoriety to give the film traction that normally wouldn’t have any…but at this point, I feel as if they are just nice surprises. I never heard of this film before I saw it, so I never felt like the actors in it were used for marketing purposes. Beyond that, they all feel like they’re born to play the roles, which you almost never see happen for ensemble films. When it does happen though, it’s so nice and refreshing to see.

I’m unable to give the movie enough praise for its presentation of the homeless in a way that’s friendly, not off-putting, not scary, not something you should feel the need to avoid or scoff at. These people, in a huge sense of the word, are all basically one big family that care about each other, don’t want to cause any harm, and have personality. They are funny, they are charming. Yeah, they’re a little weird, but at least it’s a good weird that you can accept without judgment. The way these people are presented takes me back to my days working at the homeless shelter, making friends with all of those individuals.

Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect film by any means, as it continually has pacing and narrative issues. There were two plot points introduced in the beginning of the movie before the occupy sit-in protest occurred, and these two plot points are ultimately tossed aside as if they never existed to begin with. I’m not sure why they were introduced if they were never going to be revisited with heart and consideration. Just like the protest, those plot points could’ve easily given off the same amount of emotional connections, as the main characters associated with them would’ve felt value in pursuing a resolution. Then again, the film would’ve been overly convoluted for no reason if they were all pursued…so, maybe one or two of them should’ve been deleted scenes instead.

Honestly, this movie snuck up on me in the best possible way. I probably haven’t seen Emilio Estevez in anything since Mighty Ducks, but it’s nice to see him still working, as well as his range that, while subtle, packs a powerful punch that I’m still thinking about well after the fact. As I mentioned, it’s not perfect, but for what it was going for, it did a lot of things right, and for that, I’m glad to have seen it.

TOTAL SCORE – 83%

Current 2019 Rankings:
Overall: 6th Place out of 48 Films
(In a tie with Isn’t It Romantic)
Drama: 2nd Place out of 16 Films

Other Drama Films rated 83%
Boyhood
In Your Eyes
The Judge
Upside Down
The Client

Specs:
PEOPLE SCORE (15/20)
Acting (4/4) | Characters (3/4) | Casting (3/4) | Importance (1/4) | Chemistry (4/4)
WRITING SCORE (9/10)
Dialogue (2/2) | Balance (1/2) | Story Depth (2/2) | Originality (2/2) | Concept (2/2)
BEHIND-THE-SCENES SCORE (7/10)
Visuals (1/2) | Cinematography (1/2) | Editing (1/2) | Advertising (2/2) | Music & Sound (2/2)
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE (8/10)
Introduction (2/2) | Inciting Incident (2/2) | Obstacles (1/2) | Climax (2/2) | Falling Action (1/2)
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE (4/10)
Rewatchability (0/2) | Fun Experience (2/2) | Impulse to Buy or Own (0/2) | Impulse to Talk About or Recommend (0/2) | Engaging & Riveting (2/2)
SPECIALTY SCORE (40/40)
Emilio Estevez (10/10) | Drama (10/10) | Homelessness (10/10) | Halfway Decent (10/10)

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