Richard Gere and Oren Moverman Richard Gere and Oren Moverman Richard Gere, Oren Moverman (center) and David Nugent speak at the 'Time Out of Mind' premiere during the 2014 Hamptons International Film Festival. (Photo: Rob Kim / Getty Images for The Hamptons International Film Festival)

Richard Gere film about homelessness wins award

Creative camera work bolsters Gere's intimate portrayal of street life. And no, he's not actually homeless.

Richard Gere's new movie "Time Out of Mind" won the International Federation of Film Critics Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is great news, because the internet had been aflutter with images suggesting the award-winning actor was down on his luck.

In April, photos and video of a grungy, homeless-looking man wandering the streets of Manhattan, begging for change or food, went viral online because the person who was begging on the street was Richard Gere. Under the heavy coat, knit hat and dirt, he certainly didn't look like an A-lister, and the treatment he got was shocking – except for a generous French tourist who gave the disheveled Gere a slice of her pizza.

That dose of reality was the brainchild of Israeli-born director Oren Moverman, whom Gere brought in when he found the script. He gave Moverman the story of this homeless eccentric named George to direct because of his prior work, including intimate portraits like the Bob Dylan biopic "I'm Not There."

Richard Gere in Time Out of MindRichard Gere in "Time Out of Mind." (Photo: Cold Iron Pictures)

In the new film, George (Richard Gere) attempts to reconnect with his daughter (Jena Malone) while struggling with life on the street, including being forced to sleep in unsafe shelters. Kyra Sedgwick and Ben Vereen play people George knows from the streets. To convey the feeling of that life, Moverman filmed Gere, Sedgwick and Vereen from a distance as they interacted with people on New York's streets, the same way he saw people interacting with homeless people in his own neighborhood. For instance, in many scenes, Gere is filmed either through a store or restaurant window or from several buildings away. The distance actually makes for a more intimate experience, since the viewer feels like more of a voyeur looking into the character's world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tFxd3MdFwM

"We have forgotten a certain kind of moviegoing experience that is much more abstract and ambiguous," Moverman told the Los Angeles Times. ‎"And since we were making a movie about just one of the many homeless people out there who we know nothing about, who I know nothing about, it all fit the theme quite nicely."

Reviews of the film were favorable, with Gere's gritty performance raved about in the reviews.

"(The fact that) we’re so accustomed to perceiving Gere as the sleek, silver-haired man of business and privilege only serves to reinforce the idea that poverty is not strictly the realm of those who are born into it," wrote Justin Chang in Variety. "Watching George onscreen, you can’t help but imagine if this could be the future fate of the white-collar crook the actor played in 'Arbitrage.'"

"Time Out of Mind" – not coincidentally, named after the Dylan album from 1997 – is still making the festival rounds and doesn't yet have a release date. But a grungy Gere, along with the awards the movie is getting, should be enough to garner attention when it hits theaters and video on demand.

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