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Homme Less

Thursday 11 February 2016

Homme Less is a feature documentary directed by Thomas Wirthensohn, who follows the life of the charismatic and seemingly successful Mark Reay as he goes about his day-to-day activities in the Biggest of Apples.

This is a man who has all the makings of your typical downtown success story, with his stylish wardrobe, clean shave and handsome haircut and face. The documentary is well constructed in this sense, exploring the man in terms of his hard work and successes before attending to the anticipated matter of his miserable living conditions. It’s when we uncover his rooftop boudoir - tarpaulin covering a small ’sleeping corner’ , the word rat-hole comes to mind - that it hits us. The ambiguity of his situation lies in his good humour and lack of self-pity: we get a portrait of a man who is neither disillusioned with the price of living in New York nor the fact that he hasn’t made his way to the top of his chosen career path, he simply carries on, undeterred.

The documentary prods at parts of his personal life so that we get a glimpse of his true self behind this animated and hectic façade, but it never prods deeply enough to allow us to make a faux-psychoanalysis of why he is in this situation, what his aims really are and why he’s so depressed about the state of his love life. Although this is somewhat frustrating, there’s a realistic tone to the film, it doesn’t go out of its way to portray the doom and gloom of living in New York. Wirthensohn sheds a more interesting, complex and nuanced light on coping with the cost and stresses of modern life. By looking at a man who can live in some excess and enjoy his elaborate lifestyle, we are drawn to consider our reactions to unaffordable homes and ways of living. Although this is probably not the director’s aim, the peppy attitude of Reay does complicate any sort of moral that Wirthensohn may have aimed to incorporate into the narrative. Is it the façade of wealth all that really matters?

Dir: Thomas Wirthensohn, 2014
Catch Homme Less from Friday at Bertha Dochouse
+ Director Q&A, Tuesday 16 Feb at 18:20

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