The Public

The Public

Emilio Estevez

Universal Pictures 2019

This is a fairly low budget movie, produced, directed by and starring Emilio Estevez.  He plays a librarian at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  It is a very cold winter and there are quite a few homeless people that use the Public Library as a shelter during the day.  However, when it gets super cold outside and all the shelters get full, a group of homeless guys decide they’re not going to leave the Library when it closes;  they’re going to occupy it.  Emilio’s character and the Library Director get caught up in the drama of the protest.  On the other side, there is a policeman played by Alec Baldwin who is trying to resolve the situation but he is also worried about his missing drug addict son.  Then there is the District Attorney, played by Christian Slater, who is running for Mayor and is trying to use the situation for political purposes and the local TV news reporter who sees the story as a chance for national exposure.

The story is primarily about the homeless and it turns out Emilio’s character was once homeless before he kicked his alcohol addiction and went to school to become a librarian.  But the Library and the jobs of librarians play an important part in the story too.  It shows how librarians play the role of social worker/disciplinarian in large urban public libraries.  They have to walk the tightrope between serving the public and protecting their library from those who would abuse it.  I also enjoyed the short stretches where they had numerous patrons asking some typical but also some off-the-wall reference questions.

I would think all librarians would want to check out this movie, even if their library is a long way from a big city urban library.  If for no other reason, it is heartening to see a librarian as the hero in a modern day movie.