|© Samuel Goldwyn Films|
The Outside Story is a charming story of finding life outside technology.
by Jeremy Fogelman
Cast: Brian Tyree Henry, Aunita Mani, Sonequa Martin-Green, Olivia Edward, Asia Kate Dillon and Rebecca Naomi Jones
Sometimes you can tell a movie has a “message” or a lesson to be told, and sometimes it’s explicitly spelled out by one of the characters. Usually these messages aren’t particularly clever or inventive, and often fall in the “yes, everyone agrees that nice weather is nice” category of mild revelations. At worst, this can come across preachy and angry, ruining the message and potentially making people think the opposite. But on the other side of things, sometimes you might find yourself agreeing after all.
The Outside Story comes from writer/director Casimir Nozkowski in his first feature film, and stars Brian Tyree Henry as Charles, a dude living in a decent apartment in Brooklyn. As we start off the movie, Charles has just broken up with his girlfriend Isha (Sonequa Martin-Green) after she kissed another woman. Charles has the fascinatingly morbid job of editing together in memoriam montages for celebrities in advance of their potential deaths, which is one of those jobs you never think about existing but make sense when you think about it.
We see snippets of how they met and connected, helping build a reason for us to experience the same feelings of loss as Charles. But the real conceit of the movie happens as mild tension begins to build up -- first Charles runs out of his apartment for a random reason, getting let back in by neighbors who he vaguely recognizes and exchange pleasantries. Then the hammer drops, and Charles realizes he forgot his apartment keys without any shoes on-- and naturally his phone is down to only 25% charge.
So at first it’s the typical sorts of things, trying to call the landlord, trying to find a charger he can borrow, etc. For the introverted Charles, it’s difficult because his neighbors barely recognize him in the first place. Charles manages to get his upstairs neighbor Andre (Michael Cyril Creighton) to let him use the fire escape as an attempt to get into his own apartment, but this reveals hidden depths about Andre he never knew.