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The Public

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The US constitution guarantees free access to information for all of its citizens. For the homeless people in Cincinnati, the local library offers something else besides education: a warm shelter that offers the possibility of washing during the day. No matter how overworked he is, librarian Stuart Goodson (Emilio Estevez) greets all of his visitors every morning and supports them however he can. The library management consider Goodson a thorn in their side and they‘d love to see him on the street together with his friends. The situation intensifies during one particularly cold winter night: the predominantly Black homeless people refuse to leave the library as usual because they know all the shelters are full and proceed to occupy the reading hall. The police think Goodson is a hostage-taker and prepares to storm the library. None of the occupiers want an armed conflict. Luckily the homeless people are creative and Goodson isn‘t an egg head. Emilio Estevez‘ eighth directorial turn shows the oppressive condition of US society without drowning the audience in despair. The homeless people (which include Michael K. Williams from THE WIRE) are charming and well-spoken, but the film also broaches the issue of mental illness and how easy it is to fall. With the exception of Christian Slater, who plays the DA as an unscrupulous villain, the characters on both sides of the door are believable and multilayered. The humorous way in which the occupiers deal with the threat gives the story a lightness which emphasizes the value of solidarity without making Goodson seem like a White savior figure.

Bernhard Lommel (INDIEKINO BERLIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

USA 2018, 122 min
Language: English
Genre: Drama
Director: Emilio Estevez
Author: Emilio Estevez
Montage: Richard Chew, Yang Hua Hu
Music: Tyler Bates, Joanne Higginbottom
Distributor: Koch Media
Cast: Emilio Estevez, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Taylor Schilling, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jena Malone
FSK: 6
Release: 25.07.2019

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