Mobile Homes is a new film by director Vladimir de Fontenay, an adaptation of his short of the same name. The movie is about a young mother who drifts between motels with her untrustworthy boyfriend and 8-year-old son, trying to make it by in any way possible.
The film certainly wasn’t bad, but it has a lot of issues and inconsistencies that kept it from being as impactful as it wanted to be. Although the story contains some ambitious commentary on the prevalence of poverty in the modern-day United States, it isn’t able to fully take advantage of this potential to create a compelling narrative.
One of the biggest problems in the movie is evident from the very first scene — the protagonist just isn’t particularly likable. The film makes her pitiable rather than sympathetic, and as such, the audience spends most of the movie thinking that her son would be better off without her. As such, it is difficult to approach her story. If the film had instead focused on her son as the protagonist, it would have been much more enjoyable and impactful.
It’s a shame that the supporting characters are far more well-developed and sympathetic than the protagonist. The movie easily could have turned Ali into a strong and empowered woman, but instead made her feel weak-willed and distant. It is possible that Fontenay was trying to go for gritty realism, but the character instead feels like a silhouette of what she is supposed to be.
The story’s pacing is also inconsistent. For the most part, it isn’t super slow, but it also isn’t quickly-paced. However, there are a few short bursts of intensity and a few long gaps of nothingness. These distract from the movie’s overall purpose and narrative. The film could have spared to be about twenty minutes shorter.
That being said, the movie did have some compelling emotional moments at times. There are a few scenes that really stick in your mind and have an actual impact. These flashes of promise make the film watchable despite its flawed script.
Additionally, the movie is well-executed. The cinematography is quite good, especially for a low-budget feature. It is simple, but effective. The performances are also all very strong. Although her character isn’t the most well-written, Imogen Poots does a good job in her role. She slips into the role well and is completely believable. Callum Turner gives a solid supporting performance, too, having some of the best scenes in the film. The child actor, Frank Oulton, is great as well, adding more nuance than you would expect from someone so young.
Overall, Mobile Homes is a well-made, but questionably-written movie. Honestly, had there been a few revisions to the script to make the characters more compelling, it could have been amazing, but as is, it’s just okay.
Mobile Homes opens in theaters November 16.