Featuring strong acting performances, Outside In is a character study exploring the struggles of a man upon his release from jail.
With films like Your Sister’s Sister, director Lynn Shelton has set a reputation of being at her best when her films combine comedy and drama. Outside In plays more to the dramatic side than comedy. This isn’t to say it’s a bad film because it most assuredly is not but it’s a film that runs at a slow pace that isn’t for everyone.
The film starts out as Chris Connolly (Jay Duplass) is released from jail after serving 20 years for a crime he didn’t commit. To the betterment of the film, the script avoids the whole courtroom drama. It’s not Chris’ fault that he just had the unfortunate luck of being at the wrong place when he was arrested. He’s out on parole earlier than expected because of a former high school teacher, Carol (Edie Falco). Even though Carol is married, Chris manages to confess that he’s in love with her.
As Chris comes back into the world, he learns that things aren’t the same. It’s no longer right to use the word “retarded.” This big learning lesson came from Carol’s daughter, Hildy (Kaitlyn Dever). After their initial awkward counter, it’s a surprise that the two of them were ever able to become friends. This friendship blooms as things start to crack between Chris and his brother, Ted (Ben Schwartz).
Outside In offers what is, without a doubt, the most dramatic performance of Ben Schwartz’s career. The Parks and Recreation alumnus tends to go for comedy but he shows that he has a broader range of acting. Duplass, for what it’s worth, delivers one of the finest performances in his career as a man struggling to get back to the real world. There aren’t many people that could bring to the role what Duplass brought to it.
However, it’s Last Man Standing’s Kaitlyn Dever, seen last year in Detroit, who continues to show that she’s capable of being more than a supporting character. Her character is essentially the third lead of the film but she’s well on her way to showing the world that she’s capable of taking on a lead role. It won’t be much longer. After all, she was one of the best parts about Last Man Standing.
DIRECTOR: Lynn Shelton
SCREENWRITER: Jay Duplass and Lynn Shelton
CAST: Jay Duplass, Edie Falco, Kaitlyn Dever, and Ben Schwartz
Premiering at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, Outside In is an official selection of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. The Orchard will release the film in select theaters on March 30, 2018, and a Digital/VOD release will follow on April 3, 2018.