Arts & Entertainment

The Public

Written, directed, co-produced, and starring Emilio Estevez, this is a situational drama that feels like it’s based on a true story – it isn’t, although it contains a lot of hard-hitting truths.
Estevez plays Stuart Goodson, head librarian at Cincinnati Public Library which has become a daytime sanctuary for the local homeless community. After forecasts of overnight freezing conditions and news that all the shelters are full, the group of homeless people refuse to leave the library after closing time. This leads to a stand-off with authorities and inaccurate news reports of a “hostage situation.”
It’s heartfelt, earnest, and raises important issues, but alas, Estevez is too heavy-handed in the writing, and the story suffers for lack of nuance and character depth. Nonetheless, it’s a feel-good film that still provides enough substance to stimulate ethical conversations about social structures, power, public assets, and straight-up human kindness.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich