The Public (Emilio Estevez, 2018): USA

Review by Rasmus Nilsson. Viewed at the Arlington Theater, 2018.

Emilio Estevez‘s film “The Public” had the honor of being Santa Barbara Film Festivals’ opening film shown at the Arlington Theater. The film is about a group of homeless people living in Cincinnati occupying a public library trying to survive an unusual cold winter. The Public, just like the rest of the famous directors filmsdiscusses a lot of challenging issues. During it’s 2 hours run time the film manages to discuss a number of topics humorously and without becoming stale. These topics include: homelessness, importance of books, freedom of information, mental health, fake news, etc.

The cast is filled with stars such as Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, Michael K. Williams, Gabrielle Union and of course Emilio Estevez himself who is playing the protagonist.

The movie takes place on location in a public library that during business hours acts as a home for the homeless. We follow Stuart Goodson (Emilio Estevez) who is a librarian that has a very good relationship with the homeless patrons at the library. One afternoon when the temperature is predicted to drop to a record low, the homeless decide to “occupy” the library by barricading the the doors in order to survive the night. Mr. Goodson gets caught in the middle between the patrons and the police led by Detective Bill Ramstead (Alec Baldwin) and is forced to find a solution.

In a Q&A after the movie Emilio Estevez talked about the process of making the movie. He said that he originally wrote the script 11 years ago and that he had slowly been improving it along the way waiting for the right moment to make it. The filmmaker also said that he worked many homeless people during the movie to give it authenticity. When asked if the movie was shot digitally or with film Mr. Estevez answered that it was film digitally but in post-production they used a static filter to help tell the story by giving it more intimacy.

Even though a lot of the topics were discussed very lightheartedly I thought the movie depicted the problems well and I strongly recommend it to everyone. Even to those who watch movies solely for entertainment and typically are not interested in movies discussing social problems.

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