Down-and-outer George (Richard Gere) becomes truly homeless and, with a fellow shelter denizen (Ben Vereen), tries to navigate New York City’s services and re-connect with his estranged daughter (Jena Malone). Not much more than that happens, and what does unfold does so very slowly and with deliberate distance. Director Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Rampart) shoots long, wide and through windows; George himself is passive and details about him emerge infrequently. We’re more apt to hear conversations around George — off-screen banalities of nearby New Yorkers which underscore how he is both within and without “normal” human interaction.
Time seems designed to be an experiential advocacy piece, challenging viewers to confront homelessness, both as a primed outside observer and from inside George’s struggle. A laudable goal, but too often the film felt like a primer, as homelessness is explained (shelter life, can-picking, paperwork), while George works through a checklist of typical indignities. And Gere is never wholly convincing as the rock-bottom George, particularly when paired with Vereen, who does great work here as a motor-mouthed former jazzman.