Movie Review: Mobile Homes

By Thom Compton 30.12.2019

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Mobile Homes (UK Rating: 15)

From the earliest moments of its runtime, Mobile Homes feels gross. It stars Imogen Poots as Ali, a young mother who, along with her boyfriend Evan (played by Callum Turner) and son Bone (played by Frank Oulton) move from one place to the next. They do so by committing crimes like dine and dashing and selling chickens to cock fighters to survive. All of this culminates in a gross uneasy feeling. Not just because these characters are so intensely unlikable, but because this is all so grounded. Mobile Homes is a film that asks you to care about characters who are almost always unpleasant. Sadly, it really never justifies why you should.
The performances here are outstanding. Poots in particular is as good as she always is, really selling her character and giving the audience a reason to almost like her. Ali's parenting skills are largely nonexistent, and it's not till late in the film that you really wonder if she's capable of taking care of Bone. Evan is a bad influence on her, and while he does a lot of detestable things, it's hard to blame him entirely. One could see Evan and Ali's relationship as one of exploitation. He was there for her when she was all alone (the film makes it very clear early on he isn't Bones biological father), so Ali simply tags along on whatever he wants to do because she feels he's the only one there for her.
However, this only grants her so much of a pass, and much of the film is really Ali getting away with being an awful parent. By the end, she has destroyed any chance of giving Bone a normal life (not that naming him Bone was going to do him any favors). It makes it incredibly difficult to attach to anyone in this little family when she's so neglectful, you'll spend a lot of the film with her, wondering where her son is. One could argue that back in the day, kids were sent out to fend for themselves while mothers and fathers toiled away at work. This doesn't feel like that though, and it's only in the film's final moments, and a few very short scenes throughout the film you ever get the sense she cares about him at all.


This all makes it a lot harder to see her relationship with Evan as anything other than symbiotic - not that Evan isn't a bad person. In fact, despite his occasionally playful interactions with Bone, he's actually awful. Whether it's the cockfighting or getting Bone to sell drugs afterwards, it's very clear Evan is a monster. However, Ali is only marginally better, and later scenes between the two are not only boring because of this, they are ultimately without tension. They feel more like an old episode of Friends where Janice shows up. Annoying, and almost signifying of the idea well having run dry.
This is disappointing because, again, the rest of the film is fairly strong. The performances are the biggest highlight, but the world building is also very well executed. The editing is a tad bit erratic, and one particular scene transition was sort of bizarre and pointless. Really the film is let down by its failure to really justify a lot of what's going on. Often plot points feel unearned, happening for the sake of moving the story along. The worst part of it all is how pointless everything feels. Even when Ali is finally showing potential, she messes it up. The final shot of the film seems to offer a glimmer of hope, but it doesn't feel like a deserved ending. For a film that flirts with optimism so often, it almost always makes you wonder if anything actually matters by returning to nihilism, rendering the final shot hopeful, but also one filled with dread. It works to an extent, but only if you really think about it.
Rated 6 out of 10


So what does it all mean? Can people change, and evolve into more than what they were? That does seem to be the point of many movies: watching someone grow, and, for lack of a better term, blossom, into a better version of themselves. Mobile Homes isn't interested in that, and instead presents viewers with 100 minutes of self growth that feels futile. The world is realized, the performances are good, but at the end of the day, it's a film that not only relishes in its hopelessness, but is almost mocking of any rejection of it. Sadly, this sort of exercise in futility is just too high on its own "Nothing really changes" message to really recommend.


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