The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
The Public intrigued me because it takes place mainly in a public library. As a lover of books and all things libraries, I especially wanted to check out this 2018 offering from writer, director, and actor Emilio Estevez. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised at the variety of hard hitting issues the film explores.
The Public was directed and written by Emilio Estevez. He’s directed a handful of television episodes and a few movies, but I had never seen anything directed by him before. He doesn’t take many risks here. It’s pretty straightforward in terms of story as well as technical aspects. The story is what drives the movie forward, but Estevez doesn’t do much to differentiate this movie as his own. That being said, the directing was perfectly fine. The story moved along and Estevez accomplished the goal of putting together an interesting movie.
On the surface, The Public might seem like a snooze fest. This is a movie about a public library in Cincinnati. What could possibly happen that would be even the slightest bit interesting? The answer is quite a bit. Stuart (Emilio Estevez) works at the public library with an environmentally conscious co-worker named Myra (Jena Malone). Their job is riddled with patrons demanding different things from them, but a large portion of their library users are homeless. Jackson (Michael Kenneth Williams) is the ringleader of the group of homeless men who frequent the library to escape the brutal cold of a Cincinnati winter. As temperatures drop below ten degrees, the homeless men grow frustrated and tired of braving the bitter weather at night. They decide to occupy the library after hours and use it as a homeless shelter.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The movie mainly consists of Stuart (Emilio Estevez) and a rotating group of homeless men led by Jackson (Michael Kenneth Williams) and Big George (Rhymefest). The characters all have unique backstories, and you’ll find yourself yearning to learn more about them. Stuart’s life was saved by the library which makes him partial to his job. The homeless men need the library in their own way as well. For many, it is a safe haven where they can keep warm and stay off the streets. Through the characters, several social issues are dissected including homelessness, police relations, and media reporting. The characters make the movie engaging and you find yourself rooting for each person’s individual journey.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
'The Public' Has A Lot To Offer...
The entire movie takes place in the library, so there isn’t much in the visual effects department. The same can be said for make-up and design. Filming actually took place in the Cincinnati Public Library, so the layout was realistic. All in all there wasn’t much to write home about here but there also wasn’t any need for anything too fancy. The plot and characters didn’t really need anything extra to make the movie work.
The Public (2020) | PEACOCK
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
There isn’t a whole lot to say about the music or sound in The Public either. Nothing really sticks out in these categories. The best song in the whole movie is when a large group of naked men begin singing “I Can See Clearly Now.” The rendition isn’t sung particularly well or on key, but the sentiment it brings is enough to make you forget that.
The Public surprised me with how many hard hitting issues it attempts to delve into. This isn’t a movie about fluff. It tackles some very real issues and brings humanity to the forefront. The acting is well done and the story has a few twists and turns. It probably could have been about twenty minutes shorter, but the complexity of the issues it covers force the two hour run time. Overall, The Public has a lot to offer if you’re willing to take the time to watch it. The movie will be most impactful for library lovers or those interested in social justice issues.