The Public (Emilio Estevez, 2018): USA

Reviewed by Margaux Pfau. Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2018.

In The Public, Emilio Estevez highlights the problem of the homeless people’s situation during the winter but also the homeless people in general. The film takes place in Cincinnati, in a public library during a freezing winter. Homeless people are found dead in the streets every day because of the cold, and the shelters don’t have enough space to welcome them all. Some of them go to the library during the day but they don’t know where to go when the library close. So one night, they decide to stay in the library, From there, starts a touching story between a library assistant (Emilio Estevez itself) and a group of homeless people, fighting for they’re right to stay alive in such difficult weather conditions.

 

The film starts with an old book advertisement asking “Do you like people?”. The question will take all its sense throughout the movie. Indeed, Estevez not only highlights homeless people’s condition during winter but also how we see them in general.

For example, the story of Detective Bill Ramstead (Alec Baldwin) who’s looking for his drug addict son who ends up in the street, makes us question about why do we see homeless people so different compared to normal people? Because they could be from our close surroundings, they didn’t ask to end up in the street and didn’t deserve it. As Estevez shows in his movie, most of them were having a similar life than ours, with a family, a job…

The reporter (Gabrielle Union) has not only a real impact on the movie but also on ourselves. When saying “Let’s get it done before I’m freezing to death”, she shows us how selfish we can be, without really realizing what’s going on outside our little selfish lives.

Therefore Estevez point the same problematic, do we really need to be personally touched in order to realize and try to help people who don’t have the same chance and lifestyle as we do?

Also, Estevez brings another important subject, the fact that medias aren’t always telling us the truth and showing us what’s really going on, they prefer to show us what we want to see.

Talking about a more formal point, it seems like Tyler Bates has been inspired by the soundtrack of Birdman (2014, Inarritu), using drum sounds to bring suspense and stress to the movie.

 

Considering all these points, we can clearly say that Emilio Estevez has brilliantly used the beautiful medium that is film, to highlight the important and severe situation that are facing homeless people.

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