Few social problems touch on the ugly side of the American spirit like
homelessness. "I would like not to have to see it," says one complacent Santa
Monica resident in Richard Cohen's stirring and uneven documentary Taylor's
Campaign. "I think if people don't earn their own living, they should
starve. It's survival of the fittest." One such survivor is Ron Taylor, a teddy
bear of a guy who endured the loss of job, home, and family in his slow drift
to the street before bouncing back. In 1994, with a $50 campaign chest, Taylor
ran for the Santa Monica City Council on the platform that homeless people have
civil rights too.
The campaign, though, is at the periphery of Cohen's film, which employs rough
video-vérité to capture the lives of the disenfranchised. Focusing on
a personable handful, he reveals their humor, determination, fragility, and
anger as they're shunted from one public place to another by rubber-glove-clad
cops, or as haughty, heartless politicos pass ordinances against feeding them.
Cohen's evenhandedness may be suspect -- surely not all those dismayed by the
homeless presence are Dickensian villains -- and the film's structure,
underlined by Martin Sheen's haphazard narration, is a bit shiftless. But this
movie is a needed corrective for those of us who would rather not have to see
such suffering, and a reminder that Taylor's campaign should also be our own.
Film Vault Suggested Links
Out at Work
Letters Not About Love
Waco: The Rules of Engagement
Search for related videos at Reel.com
Search for more by Richard Cohen at Reel.com
Search for related books at Amazon.com
Search for related music at Amazon.com
Rate this Film
If you don't want to vote on a film yet, and would like to know how
others voted, leave the rating selection as "Vote Here" and then click the
Cast Vote button.