Documentaries on homelessness tend to lean towards the dramatic side, attempting to force a supposedly ambivalent audience into compassion. You can practically sense the filmmakers' guilt seeping through the screen, either that they live as well as they do, or that people without homes are a new phenomenon they are just recently acknowledging... and therefore something must be done about it! While it is a blessing that a film will seek out and tenderly portray the homeless that we fast-paced commuters purposely ignore everyday, the dramatization of the situation can also push the emotional divide between those that fend for themselves and those that don't that much wider.

What the 1995 film Jupiter's Wife captures is, thankfully, entirely different. Director Michel Negroponte follows an eccentric middle-aged woman, Maggie Cogan, who chooses to live in New York's Central Park with several animal companions. The camera simply follows her on a daily basis, and as questions are asked, she responds without the slightest bit of pretension. The camera could be there or not, it's as if she's talking with an old friend. She may have a screw or two loose, but she's always engaging to listen to. The eclectic backdrops of shooting through New York's streets provide a beautiful compliment to her musings, especially as Negroponte's cinematography remains gorgeous throughout.

Continue reading: Jupiter's Wife Review