The Outside Story follows Charles Young, who’s an introverted editor living in his 2nd-floor apartment, always on a deadline and in a rut. When he locks himself out of his building, he’s forced to go outside and confront the world he’s been avoiding.
This is the first starring role for Brian Tyree Henry who many of you may know from the FX series “Atlanta.” Filmwise, he’s appeared in smaller roles in a variety of movies, with his best in my opinion being his eerie and haunting monologue in If Beale Street Could Talk.
So I have always respected him as an actor and loved to see him in anything really, so of course, I wanted to check this film out.
The Outside Story
The Outside Story is a fun and light-hearted indie film that doesn’t overstay its welcome, clocking in at just 85 minutes. This film is what I would call cinematic comfort food. The kind of film where you find yourself smiling and genuinely rooting for the characters on screen and you leave it just as happy.
Much of that has to do with Henry’s performance. Much like his previous roles he is very likable in the film and carries with him a certain comedic charm that carries much of the film’s more lighthearted scenes. But he’s also exceptional at portraying drama, hopelessness, and pain. And he puts that to the test here.
I think this role was perfect for him as his first feature because if this was your introduction to his acting, you pretty much walk away with a great understanding of what kind of performer he is. I don’t only attribute it to him, but the writing and overall direction as well.
Setting-building in The Outside Story
When Henry’s character, Charles, is locked out of his apartment, naturally the film has to find ways to fill in that space of time between him being locked out and him finding his way back inside. And it’s interesting but also naturally done how the film introduces us to his world.
A lot of films, especially fantasy or sci-fi films, use a character to introduce us to the world of the film. We see the world through their eyes essentially. In this film, we know how this world operates already. It’s a normal modern-day Brooklyn setting that won’t surprise anyone when you’re watching this.
What makes it interesting on screen is the fact that Charles has no clue how this world works. He’s always inside, becoming a recluse of sorts, so this situation forces him to get to know his neighbors, to learn more about his community, to really become a part of his community that he so often neglected.
So the film is about more than just Charles finding himself as a character. It’s about Charles finding his place in the world but on a much smaller scale. We watch him learn from other characters and grow as a person from these experiences when he’d much rather be inside working or hiding from the outside world.
And that’s what makes it such a feel-good film. There’s also a relationship aspect with his girlfriend that I don’t want to spoil too much. But it serves as a great motivator for him as well and just adds to that warm feeling you get when watching it.
Overall I don’t have many negatives with this film. It’s not perfect by any means. Some of the dialogue could be tighter and because of the length we don’t get a lot from the side characters.
They’re very much in the film as plot devices for his growth, which isn’t a bad thing at all, but more development with some, like the police officer in the film who is dedicated to her job of writing parking tickets which becomes a running joke in the film, would’ve been great.
Despite that, the film is a great time. It’s not on any streaming services but you can watch it anywhere online you can rent movies.