Outside In

I am always thrilled to see a Duplass involved in a picture. Last week at a screening of Tully, it was Mark. In this, it’s Jay, who co-wrote the script with Lynn Shelton (who wrote/directed the terrific movie starring Mark Duplass called Your Sister’s Sister).

Jay Duplass plays Chris, an ex-con who just spent 20 years in prison, after taking the fall for a few others. As you can imagine, adjusting to life on the outside, after two decades, is a bit odd; but this isn’t played for cheap laughs.

We’ve all had a crush on a teacher, but Chris’ crush makes a little more sense. The teacher he had 20 years earlier, is the same one that was involved in getting him released early. Carol (Edie Falco) quickly realizes he’s enamored with her, but figures once he gets comfortable on the outside, he’ll be fine. He keeps pestering her to hang out, but she’s busy working, trying to get her marriage to Tom (Charles Leggett) back on track, and dealing with a rebellious teenage daughter. She’s played by Kaitlyn Dever, channelling Ellen Page. When she starts to develop a crush on Chris, you’ll start getting nervous. Since we’ve all seen a number of movies over the years, we start to see the patterns develop. That’s what makes this movie so refreshing. It doesn’t always go down the paths you think it will, and even if it does a few times, it stays interesting.

A number of scenes were done perfectly. One of those involves Chris riding his bike over to an old friend’s house. The guy is married with kids, and doesn’t have time to hang out. Instead of him rudely blowing him off, he talks to him for a bit, and tries to act like he hates being trapped with a crying baby. It was a rather sweet touch, making that friend realize that Chris doesn’t have a lot to do. His days are spent roaming around town, and looking for jobs at places that don’t want to hire a felon.

There’s an early scene with Carol talking to a colleague about the ex-con and her marriage, and it’s just the right amount of humor. It also felt exactly like how teachers might talk with each other.

Another scene involves Chris fighting with his brother over somebody he didn’t want to see, and it’s perfectly understated.

There are conversations between mother and daughter that, while not on the level of Ladybird, are smartly written and feel authentic.

I would’ve prefered a scene with Chris and that daughter having an interesting conversation. I needed to be shown a bit more about why they would bond so strongly.

His character was also a bit thinly-written, with a few too many scenes of him just riding his bike around.

But the chemistry between Duplass and Falco is excellent, and both of them deliver outstanding performances. She almost made me forget about that horrible Louis C.K. movie she did last year.

These are the types of indie pictures I wish more people would support and I’m thrilled San Diego has so many venues to see movies like this.

It’s currently playing at the Digital Gym on El Cajon Blvd.

It gets 3 stars out of 5.