The Public

The Public

The Public

A sit-in by patrons at a public library escalates into a police standoff in this David versus Goliath, feel-good drama from and starring Emilio Estevez. Co-stars Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater and Jena Malone.

"It begins quietly enough in a Cincinnati library on a winter's day. Stuart (Estevez) and Myra (Malone) do their best to manage the daily assortment of knowledge seekers, loiterers, and homeless people who frequent their branch. It's freezing outside. As closing time draws near, Jackson (The Wire's Michael K. Williams) sparks an act of civil disobedience among his fellow library patrons who have nowhere to sleep. They refuse to leave, defying first the entreaties of the library staff, then a local political operative (Slater), and soon a team of riot police led by Detective Ramstead (Baldwin), a hard-charging crisis negotiator. Outside, a TV reporter (Gabrielle Union) juices up the story for the wider world." (Toronto International Film Festival)

2019Rating: M, Coarse language122 minsUSA
Drama

Streaming (3 Providers)

The Public / Reviews

Variety

Variety

Consistently engages despite the relative obviousness of its dramatic tactics.

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The New Yorker

The New Yorker

The problem is, there's only just enough story to go round. You can hear the creak as both characters and subplots get jacked up out of proportion.

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The New York Times

The New York Times

Estevez does an elegant job with this setup, creating a low-key, uncondescending portrait of lives on the edge.

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Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald

It's hard to play a good man doing the right thing. Saints are dramatically dull, but Estevez gets away with it here.

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Stuff

Stuff

A confident and compelling social issues drama.

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Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

[A]n often implausible, stacked deck of social issues, contrived conflicts and feel-good activism.

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Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

The dialogue often has a stilted, unnatural ring to it, and it is a tribute to the cast that they manage to bring out the essence of the film, its political heart, so strongly.

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