Film Review: MOBILE HOMES (France/Canada 2017)

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Mobile Homes Poster
A young mother drifts from one motel to the next with her intoxicating boyfriend and her 8-year-old son. The makeshift family scrapes by, living one hustle at a time, until the discovery of…See full summary »

Writers:

Vladimir de FontenayDanielle Lessovitz (Artistic Collaborator)

 

MOBILE HOMES is a very intense film as evident in three of the film’s opening sequences.  The first shows a mother, Ali (British actress Imogen Poots), frustrated to the point of blowing up at her inability to set her son up for aid due to lack of documentation.  The next scene that follows is a highly charged erotic sex scene with the mother having it on with boyfriend, Evan (Callum Turner).  This soon follows one where the boy, Bone (Frank Oulton) has to make a dash out of a diner to escape payment.  Will he make it or get caught?

France born director Vladimir de Fontenay keeps up the intensity throughout the film though one soon has the feeling if all this is necessary or is he trying too hard.  MOBILE HOMES, is as the title implies set in the white trailer trash surroundings of losers and dishonest low-life who would cheat and lie to get ahead just for a few bucks.  Evan and Ali attempt one scheme after another, often with the help of 8-year old Bone who seems to have an affinity for his mother’s boyfriend who treats him ok, if not teaching him a bad thing or two on survival.  There is another nasty bit in the story involving cock fighting.  Bone has a rooster that he loves and carries around with him.   There is also the question of using an underaged kid to sell drugs or do dishonest deeds besides banned outings like cock fighting.

At one point in the film, Ali confesses her desire to own a place of her own, so she can f*** in her own bed.  This leads to a scheme of trying to own their own mobile home, though it may mean stealing from mobile homes owner, Robert (Callum Keith Rennie).  

One wonders at the director’s fascination of mobile homes.  His obsession can be observed right down to the film’s climax that include a high speed chase with Ali driving a vehicle with a stolen mobile home in tow.  It is an extremely exciting and well shot scene, credit to de Fontenay and one that is guaranteed to have audiences at the edge of their seats.

The film is shot in Ontario around the Niagara region, which is where cheap tourism exists – a perfect locale for the film’s setting.

The trouble with MOBILE HOMES is that besides being a really nasty film, director de Fontena offers few redeeming qualities for any of his characters with the result that the audience does not care what happens to them.  Why doesn’t Ali just start thinking seriously about getting a job to settle down?  The prospect of a job is at one point offered to her by Robert, which she misuses.

While Poots and Turner deliver exceptional performances despite the film’s flaws, it is the boy Frank Oulton who is a natural.  Whether getting lost, beaten or scolded, he is the only character that the audience feels for.  The result, however, is still a film the audience is detached from.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py-MBw-8pM4

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Film Review: THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK (USA 2017)

THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK.jpgAdrift in New York City, a recent college graduate’s life is upended by his father’s mistress.

Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Allan Loeb
Stars: Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Nixon, Kiersey Clemons, Tate Donovan, Wallace Shawn

Review by Gilbert Seah 

 It has been 5 years since the announcement of the making of this movie and its completion after many delays and re-casting. Surprisingly, THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK turns out not that bad, but it is a far cry from the director’s first and excellent debut, THE (500) DAYS OF SUMMER.

The lead young actor, Callum Turner of THE ONLY LIVING BIY IN NEW YORK appears to be a clone of Joseph-Gordon Levitt in SUMMER, not only in looks but in certain mannerisms. Turner is not bad, charming, while portraying both the strength of a budding writer and a vulnerable player in the artistic world. The casting director seems unable to resist the casting of Wallace Shawn as a talking artist in one of the family’s famous artist dinner parties.

The script by Allan Loeb feels at times like a Woody Allen one, with multiple relationships going on at one time. No one appears capable of keeping a monogamous less honest relationship without sleeping with another and then substantiating it as all right afterwards. Unlike an Allen film, the guilt comes more into play in this story with each lover trying to right a wrong.

When the film begins, a recent college graduate, Thomas Webb (Turner) is given the news that the girl whom he has been seeing and has fallen in love with, Mimi Pastori (Kiersey Clemons) is leaving him to go abroad. They still love each other as they profess, which really means nothing in a film that tries to be as smug as this one, from the very beginning. Thomas ends up sleeping with his dad, Ethan’s (Pierce Brosnan) mistress, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), while the poor mother Judith (Cynthia Nixon) looks on. It turns out that mother is not that innocent after all, as will be revealed later on in the story (no spoiler to be revealed here.) In the process of all this, Thomas meets, though too coincidentally, a neighbour stranger named W.F. Gerald (Jeff Bridges) who turns out to be his mentor helping him out both in his love affairs and life.

THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK is a likeable film and director Webb (who also did the SPIDER-MAN movies) knows how to make a likeable film. Love triumphs in many ways and always does. Everyone in the script also ends up with his or her own little happy ending.

THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK, which turns out to be the title of the book a character writes, will be inevitably compared to a Woody Allen movie for its look on the New York art scene and relationships.

This is the difference between Loeb’s script, Webb’s direction and Woody Allen’s works. Life does not always turn out to be happy endings. Allen’s characters suffer more, for their cheating in their love affairs and in general in how things in life eventually turn out. Life is not all plain sailing that turn out well. That is the reason Allen’s films are more endearing and realistic. And Allen knows how to put in more humour and sarcasm into his works as well. This film ends up a too smug arty fairy tale.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkjhAeF3b1g

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