I can’t decide whether Mobile Homes is genuine or not. Its portrait of off-the-grid living and underground ugliness looks real to an upsetting extent, but the characters are unbelievable.
Ali (Imogen Poots) is loyal to her intimidating boyfriend Evan (Callum Turner) yet not as protective of her 8-year-old son Bone (Frank Oulton). She cares about Bone, but she assumes he’s fit enough to occupy himself when Mom and Dad are busy with “work”. Their “work” involves selling chickens for illegal cockfights after they carefully tie blades to the animal’s talons. Sometimes Bone helps out, but his well-being isn’t really a top priority. Ali seems more concerned about having a better living arrangement, so that her and Evan can have better sex – what a pair.
Poots is a uniformly talented performer and she’s very good in Mobile Homes, but her character Ali isn’t well-realized by writer/director Vladimir de Fontenay. During the first third of Mobile Homes, Ali is annoying and unlikable as she enables Evan and treats Bone as an afterthought. When a dramatic shift happens that creates fear for Ali and Evan, she escapes with her son – with sudden parental instincts – and finds the second chance they so desperately need. Ali is supposed to have an arc of redemption as she rediscovers work ethic and genuine affection, but it’s a bit of a stretch for the audience to jump on board. The transition is very abrupt, even if Ali is guarded. She’s an unstable character, but the filmmaker can’t decide where her weakness stems from.
Vladimir de Fontenay’s inconsistent screenwriting and inability to commit as a director effects how Mobile Homes’ character-driven story unfolds. However, the filmmaker engages us with unforgettable visuals. He views Ali and Evan’s desolation through a unique scope, and a climactic stunt is nothing short of riveting.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie