OUTSIDE IN SPEC D: Lynn Shelton. US..
OUTSIDE IN SPEC D: Lynn Shelton. US. 109 min. Sep 16, 9 am, Scotiabank 1. Rating: NNN
The latest from American indie filmmaker Shelton (Your Sister’s Sister, Touchy Feely) plays like a more sombre spin on her 2014 comedy Laggies, focusing on a character who finds himself caught in someone else’s family dynamic.
Here, it’s Chris (Jay Duplass), just out of prison after serving 20 years for a crime he himself didn’t actually commit. He was 17 at the time, and his high-school teacher Carol (Edie Falco) has been his advocate ever since – and now that he’s out, she’s still his lifeline. But neither of them knows exactly how that works, since she’s married with a teenage daughter, Hilde (Kaitlyn Dever, who co-starred in Laggies).
Most of Outside In is comprised of small moments between these characters as they try to figure out who they are to each other. Chris’s arrested emotional development lets him connect to Hilde, but he’s drawn to Carol for comfort and support, which doesn’t sit terribly well with her husband Tom (Charles Leggett). And then there’s Chris’s younger brother Ted (Ben Schwartz), who’s trying a little too hard to help Chris reintegrate into society.
The stakes are very low, and the dramatic tension doesn’t exactly crackle. But Shelton makes movies where those things aren’t so important. This is a life study in which you watch to see whether these people can find their way in the world. You root for them. You care.