Based on his 2013 award winning short film of the same name, Vladimir De Fonteney’s Mobile Homes. A film based on those lost in the cracks of the American Dream, the forgotten and the impoverished.
Life is full of pitfalls, wrong turns, bad choices and regrets. Imogen Poots stars as a young mother trying to do right for her son whilst trapped in vicious circle of poverty and toxic relationships. Like the classic Edward Collins Orange Juice song, Rip It Up And Start Again. Not just for the film’s lead character but with this disappointing predictable film.
I can’t say I’m an expert in what entails the ‘American Dream‘ apart from the ethos of ideals the U.S is mean’t to be based on…Equality, Freedom, prosperity through hard work with very few barriers to succeed. It’s a dream and aspiration that could fit for any country in the world. You go where the work and money is with a hope of climbing up the ladder quickly as possible. Ali we don’t really know if she was born into poverty or simply fell on hard times possibly becoming a mum or attempting to climb that ladder. As the film progresses that question comes less important as her and her son are drowning in a vicious pool of heartache.
In Mobile Homes Ali lives on the road with her son Bone (Frank Oulton) and her controlling boyfriend Evan (Callum Turner). The trio drift between motels, empty homes in attempt to keep a roof over their heads. They eat in diners then running away before they pay. Any income they do make is selling birds for illegal cock fighting or selling drugs. Its then Evan crosses a bridge too far getting Bone to sell the drugs. Ali and Bone flee to seek refuge.
The pair get as far as a Mobile Homes showroom braking into one of the homes they fall asleep. They wake up only to find they are on the move with no clue where they are or going. Arriving at a trailer park they cross paths with the owner Robert (Callum Kieth Rennie), Ali begs for refuge and he reluctantly agrees to become part of their mobile community.
When it comes to adapting short films into full length features you run the risk of loosing what made the original film a success. Mobile Homes feels over stretched and loses its momentum really quickly. You never really capture the characters true motivations. Ironically some films take a while to get started, this one starts really strong only to fall apart at the melodramatic ending.
The film is no easy watch either. Bleak, gritty and heartbreaking and DP Benoit Soler gives you a taster of the harsh reality Ali finds herself in. De Fonteney and Danielle Lessovitz‘s script throws you into the deep end of her desolation and desperation for a better life.
We also see how low she’ll go for the money as well as the lines she’ll not step over especially when it comes to Evan exploiting her son. You end up at times having no sympathy for her when she teaching her son to Diner dash, breaking into houses. When she does try to be good you do have some empathy for her. Attempting to get her boy into social care only let herself down letting him wonder unattended saying to the social worker He knows his way home”.
When you look at it Ali is a child too, reckless, naive at parenting. Leaves you wondering how long has she been with Evan? A nihilistic , volatile numbskull whose relationship with Ali feels more primal than actual chemistry.
Mobile Homes may let us walk with grifters who so much desire the American Dream. They come off more as been crudely labelled ‘Trailer Park Trash’. The film attempt to be in the mould of Andrea Arnold‘s American Honey or one of the Dardenne Brothers gritty social realist dramas. But thanks to a narrative that fails to let relationships flourish to appreciate the character. Your left with very little emotional backbone to truly appreciate what you’ve just watched.
Drama | 2017, USA | 15 | Thunderbird Releasing | Digital HD | Dir.Vladimir de Fontenay | Imogen Poots, Callum Turner, Callum Keith Rennie, Frank Oulton