The Public Image

The Public

By Alan Ng | April 5, 2019

In these divided times, films centering on political issues either make an earnest attempt to persuade the other side to consider its point of view or play to its political allies and demonize its enemies. The Public does the latter, and the result is to further widen the divide of political discourse with self-righteous finger-pointing.

The Public (2018) Written and directed by Emilio Estevez. Starring Emilio Estevez, Jena Malone, Taylor Schilling, Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, Gabrielle Union, Jeffrey Wright. The Public screened at the 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

6 out of 10 stars

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  1. […] as a central part of the film, say the film has a “subpar screenplay,” is “self-righteous,” or is “sincere” with a “political heart.” Comments are welcome, as […]

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  4. Carl W Newton says:

    You can expect positive reviews from people who see this movie because only liberals will see it. Many people will not even see a movie with Alec Baldwin, expecting a sarcastic liberal politicalization of any issue. It may be a watchable movie that I will never see because of him.

  5. Timothy L. Smalls says:

    I saw this movie at the only AMC Theater in the city of Milwaukee on Saturday night. I was touched and moved by the screenplay, since 40 years ago I was one of those homeless. My angst with the storyline is that it fell short in examining the plight of the homeless with regard to other aspects of life besides surviving weather related danger, but then again, it only ran 2 hours. LOL. As the world’s greatest Aficionado of The West Wing, I can truly wholeheartedly agree with Alan Ng’s review in indicating Emilio Estevez is truly his father’s son. Martin Is a proud daddy.

  6. As a professor at Azusa Pacific University, our MSW grad students have been studying the various models in Los Angeles County that partner social workers with librarians in our public libraries. Patrons needing linkage to resources include those experiencing caregiver burden, domestic violence, immigration struggles, unemployment and more. If you know a journalist that would like to get some of our information into the news cycle, please connect.
    Adria Navarro (

  7. J says:

    The plot of the film reflects the reality in the eyes of the homeless and library staff per the above feedback you received.

  8. Alan Ng says:

    Just to be clear. The sentence quoted refers to the actual plot of the film and not the real plight of homelessness or the importance of libraries in service to all members of the community.

  9. Kelley Cutler says:

    If you think this movie is “heavy-handed fiction, which creates an emotional disconnection with the very real plight of homelessness” you are clearly uninformed about the reality of homelessness. I’ve been working in homelessness for the past 18 years and this movie is spot on. The criminalization of homelessness is a HUGE issue. We have a housing and health crisis, and yet the status quo is a law enforcement response… I see it on a daily basis. I was thrilled to finally see a movie that got it right… and the added bonus of being hilarious. This movie is a must see!

  10. Sarah W Rosenblum says:

    I saw this film last summer at the American Library Association Annual Conference, it is spot on with what is happening every day in America’s public libraries. As a 30 year librarian I was astonished to see how much the writer director got right about the homeless and their use of the library. I urge everyone to see this film. I am hoping to screen it in conjunction with my local homeless shelter.

  11. Gloria says:

    Where can I view this movie? It’s not in theaters or online. Which is strange because of the mainstream actors represented. I’m just wondering because I’ve been looking for a while now.

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