Movie #42 2021: Outside In (2017)

I’ll be honest with you here. I only came to this movie because Edie Falco stars and I bloody love her. Then, I found out that Lynn Shelton directed it, and I’d been meaning to view something of her’s for a while. The rest, they say, is history.

Outside In feels almost like a true story in its realism and hard-hitting emotion framework. However, to the best of my knowledge, I understand that it is mostly fictional. Written by the film’s star Jay Duplass together with Shelton, the drama centres on a released convict (Duplass as Chris), who was sentenced to twenty years in prison for murder. His former high school teacher Carol (Falco) was monumental in campaigning for getting Chris released early, as she felt deep down that he had been wrongly accused. When the pair of them meet up when Chris has reached 38 years old, they find that there’s an odd sort of chemistry between them, throwing a spanner right into the middle of Carol’s marriage.

As I’ve said, I came here for Edie Falco purely because I love her. What I didn’t expect was to also be treated with Kaitlyn Dever and Ben Schwartz, so they were just a bonus. Dever maturely plays Carol’s teenage daughter, whilst Schwartz undertakes quite an uncharacteristic serious role here as Chris’ brother – as far away from Jean-Ralphio as you can get. Duplass as the co-lead was fine, but there’s one performance that rises completely above all the rest, and that’s (no surprise here) Edie Falco. Whilst the film is littered with good performances, her’s is simply incredible. Falco wants you to know why she won so many Primetime Emmys, so she gives you one of her best performances of all time here.

I’d heard some great things about the late Lynn Shelton, hence why I was doubly interested about watching this one, but now I completely understand the praise. There’s no doubt that her direction only heightens these nuanced performances, and she finds beauty in such every day objects that make them worth capturing on film. In short, this is a love story between two people on the surface, but also often feels like a love story to the state of Washington beneath it all due to Shelton’s input.

Outside In is not a movie that’s filled with action-packed sequences or out of the ordinary visuals, but there’s something so quietly powerful and personal about its story. It simply has a deeply emotional narrative at its heart that is rooted in cinematic realism; this is something that could absolutely happen in real life, and therefore the line between drama and keeping it realistic is finely tread rather successfully.

But that’s enough about the storyline. Let me muse some more about the brilliance of Edie Falco, because I need you to understand how good she is. Despite the camerawork and the plot being wonderful, this is a film that is unequivocally about the lead performance. Falco gives one of the best performances of her life if you ask me; every facial expression, every look, every breath she takes makes you feel exactly what she’s thinking. A masterclass in the art of thespianism. And my God, if this doesn’t make you want to punch her fictional husband in the face then you must be blind. What a douche. 

Do I wish it was a little shorter? Yes, always. But the script is incredibly well put together and the story itself comes with twists and turns that aren’t flamboyant or flashy but rather quite poignant and heart-wrenching. (And when it’s revealed who the real murderer was, it’s quite the jaw-dropper.)

A very touching film indeed. I kind of want to move to Seattle now.

Outside In is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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