Emilio Estevez has crafted a film that feels like it is based on a true story. On a freezing cold night in Cincinnati, dozens of homeless men stage a protest by refusing to leave the city’s public library, forcing a stand-off between police, politicians and library staff. As the TV news media broadcast live trying to make the story bigger than it is, head librarian Mr Goodson (Estevez) faces tough choices about whose side he is on.
With a cast of Hollywood royalty, Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater (Mr Robot), Michael K. Williams (The Wire), Taylor Schilling (OITNB), Jena Malone (The Hunger Games) Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) and Emilio Estevez himself, the dramatic performances are excellent.
Unfortunately the script might have benefited from further revision as there are moments of inauthenticity, as characters behave in ways that fit the story but not necessarily how we might expect in reality.
Despite any flaws, the Public still holds its own as a relevant, topical drama that touches on poverty, addiction, politics, the environment, activism, human rights and knowledge as power. The flashes of humour throughout are most welcome, as Estevez veers towards a preachy mentality in his storytelling.
3 Stars – “A Touching, Topical Drama”