Mobile Homes (2017)

A young mother does what she can to survive and keep her son fed, including following her boyfriend’s schemes and moving from motel to motel. That is until another option presents itself in a dire hour and she makes a decision to give her son more.

Directed by Vladimir de Fontenay who wrote with artistic collaborator Danielle Lessovitz, Mobile Homes weaves a tale of despair and bad decisions from one woman and her boyfriend whom she may trust a bit too much with too many responsibilities. Her evolution shows that she is not all bad and that there has definitely been an angle of bad luck that has affected her life and her decision making skills. The film is a solid drama that gradually builds its leads into characters that are at first people no one cares about until they take a few right decisions, show their vulnerabilities, and become better rounded humans. By the end of the film, the viewer is emotionally invested and the last third becomes more powerful with the last 5 to 10 minutes becoming a gut-punch of emotions.

Playing the lead of Ali, the mother at the center of the story, is Imogen Poots who does amazing work giving her character depth and nuance by letting her be tough and vulnerable, alternating between good and bad decisions, showing a wide range of emotions in subtle ways. Her performance carries the film and makes it what it is. This is the Imogen Poots show and the viewer is along for the ride the second she pulls them close and they won’t want to let go. Playing her son and doing so very well is young Frank Oulton who gives a natural performance and is one of those kids the viewer can feel for even when they may not be all that parental in their normal ways or viewings. The kid is not obnoxious and he holds his own next to Poots, Rennie, and Turner. Speaking the latter two, Callum Keith Rennie and Callum Turner play a man central to the story and the boyfriend respectively, both giving great performance with Rennie edging Turner as strongest here due to how he carries himself, how he puts everything into this performance and probably also due to how his character is written. All these characters are flawed from the get-go, but some have better outcomes, better arcs that makes it easier to care for them and their future.

The film has a very specific mood or feel to it that is achieved through the writing, direction, acting, and all décor, costumes, etc, but mostly through the images and sounds. The cinematography by Benoit Soler gives the film a photographic quality, framing certain scenes like old photos, giving them their own feeling and emotions without the characters doing a thing. His work here is strong and pulls the viewer into the story deeper, giving them a sort of view on a life complicated by faith. His work pairs fantastically well with the music by Matthew Otto who clearly knows what emotions to underline and which ones to let speak for the themselves. The music he puts on the images doesn’t over take any of them and lets the viewer find their own emotions before joining them. It’s subtle at times and gives the film the room it needs to advance and the viewer the room they need to get into it all without overpowering things.

Mobile Homes is a strong drama that builds up along the way and serves an emotional wallop at the end as the lead evolves and becomes more than she is at the start, she becomes what the viewer ends up hoping for her, but not necessarily in the way they would have hoped. The acting is on point throughout and from everyone with Imogen Poots and Callum Keith Rennie being the major standouts of the film showing what they can do with great material. The images and music match the film and elevate it, giving it that little extra something to connect with the viewer and make sure the emotional impact is felt and felt strong. Mobile Homes is a lower budget drama that may look like nothing but as one watches it, it hits strong, it hits hard, and it leaves an emotional mark.

Is fighting loneliness worth putting one’s self or someone else in harm’s way?