The dedication which closes Paul Bettany’s debut film Shelter (2014) reads “To the couple who lived outside my building”. Expressing both detachment and proximity, it admits to the essential discomfort that characterises Hollywood’s occasional flirtations with vagrancy. From The Fisher King to The Soloist, the homeless are treated with a mixture of whimsy and guilt-ridden fascination. “We’re a moral stop light,” Tom Waits growls in Terry Gilliam’s Arthurian fantasy. Weighed down by a similar earnestness, Shelter ultimately gets jammed in its own increasingly over-wrought, well-meant and predictable melodrama.
John Bleasdale | @drjonty