"The Outside Story" (2020), directed by Casimir Nozkowski, is a gentle tale about a voluntarily housebound obituary video-editor who locks himself out of his apartment for a day, sans shoes, some time after demanding his girlfriend move out as a consequence of her infidelity. Charles (Bryan Tyree Henry) lives in a three apartment building in Brooklyn, New York. The movie is set entirely within the neighborhood. Charles discovers that he has neighbors, that they have perspectives that differ from his, and that their lives are interesting. Many of these neighbors have tragic aspects to their lives but they embrace the day within which they are living. As he encounters each neighbor and the whimsical plot line deepens their relationships, Charles works away at his core issues: long-term creative blockage, and mixed-up anger and sorrow over his girlfriend.
This movie doesn't go in for fancy effects. The story is told in a straightforward timeline of Charles' day, interspersed with wistful memories of his girlfriend Isha (Sonequa Martin-Green). Charles' day feels real, the kind of a day wherein nothing magical happens but everything is transformed. The kind of day a stagnant soul longs for throughout the long plateau of settled, routine days. The kind of day in which it seems that everything is going wrong but actually fate is reversing course and offering up a new, fresh kind of life that Charles, as an aware person, is able to embrace and evolve into.
"The Outside Story" is called a comedy. The humor within in is generally as gentle and unforced as the moral and the pacing; it comes from paying attention and appreciating the variety of human personality and opinion. Sometimes it comes from the contrast between the anxieties of the mind and the needs of the human body and sometimes from the surprising actions of the characters. This movie is very good at the little surprises, just like life, wherein you think you know a person and can predict what the next action will be, but you are wrong. People and events continually surprise.
The quality of the writing and direction is backed up by the solid talent of the cast, set and costume designers, and the thoughtful camera angles. Every actor involved fills their roll with the complex dimensionality of a real person. I was most impressed by Sunita Mani, as the obsessive parking ticket cop, who played her role with gusto and challenged all of the stereotypes of black man/police encounters. My little complaint - which I've had since childhood and probably for life - is over the choice of girlfriend, but it is not the Martin-Green's fault she is gorgeous and that she must be gorgeous to be leading lady. She performed her role well. It's just that all the other characters were imperfect in appearance, as in life. Charles was played by an overweight, slow-moving man, which was suited his character. But we all know that the imperfect guy gets the beautiful and accomplished woman in the movies, and often in life. When can we move past that?
The set design was spot-on. The neighborhood itself was shown as the community it often is, and the apartments were perfectly matched with their inhabitants. It was obvious from Charles' apartment, for instance, that he was depressed, that he was normally very neat, and that the disorder within it was superficial and temporary. The pants he picked up off the floor were folded.
Camera angles were varied and pitch-perfect for the action or perspective.
Because so much in this movie feels like the absurdity of real life, one bit of fakery was particularly jarring for me. There was a neighbor who was supposed to be pregnant with a huge false belly hanging wrong under a bony face. As a woman who has been pregnant and around others pregnant it stood out as a big mistake.
I would not buy this movie. I would watch it once or twice more to study the camera angles and think about the minds and planning behind the skillful alignment of all elements with the plot. I would recommend it to others as well. I don't see it as a long-term favorite because with careful watching and thought afterwards, its message and story are easily digestible.
The Outside Story
The Outside Story
An introverted editor living a vertical life in his 2nd-floor apartment, always on deadline and in a rut. When Charles locks himself out of his building, he's forced to go horizontal and confront the world he's been avoiding in search of a way back inside.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 01, 2021 at 08:17 PM