8 March 2015 | bob the moo
Wanted to be impacted due to the importance of the issue, but found it overly long, overly earnest and surprisingly lacking a sense of humanity in the characters
I'm not sure where I heard about this film, or why I added it to my queue to watch later – but it was much later when I finally did. The short is a worthy one because it aims to raise awareness of homelessness – of the importance of even just making small donations to the charities that work to try to at least give people options other than sleeping on the street. This I fully support and it is not easily I say that personally I took very little from the film – either as an awareness raising exercise, or as a narrative.
We join the film as a young boy calls for an ambulance because his friend Stanley doesn't seem to be breathing; from here we jump back in time to find the boy running away from an abusive home, and hooking up with homeless man Stanley (reportedly from the Congo) who is like a raft of comparative safety in the world the boy has now entered. Stanley is a likable old man, albeit one who is frequently drunk in public. The core principle of the film is that Stanley is making stuff up – to the point that even the boy sees it; but in the end the boy also seems to be making up stories, presumably because it is easier than dealing with reality directly – better to always tell of better times and have your mind there, rather than on the dead end of the daily.
The film makes this point but not particularly well. As a narrative it doesn't draw us in too much, and doesn't flow – but then as a look at the harshness of life on the street, it doesn't really convey this well either. To add to this, it also last 20 minutes which, for a film intended to make an impact online, is a pretty long time for a film that meanders as this one does. Despite this, it still carries itself with an earnest that it probably doesn't warrant in terms of what it is doing. I did watch it wanting to care for the people, or be impacted about the homeless problem, but in the end I found that the earnest tone of the film ground on me, and the two lead characters were far too one note to get drawn into as people. Most surprising was that the film just didn't have that sense of humanity in the characters or their situation. A worthy film – but sadly not a good one.