Director Ava DuVernay and actress Storm Reid on the set of A Wrinkle in Time, 2016/2017. (Photo: Atsushi Nishijima)
Here are twenty-five new movies due to be released in theaters or via other viewing platforms this March, all of which have been directed and/or photographed by women. These titles are sure to intrigue cinephiles and also provoke meaningful discussions on the film world, as well as the world in general.
MARCH 1: Werewolf (dir. Ashley McKenzie) – Toronto International Film Festival synopsis by Steve Gravestock: “The hardscrabble existence of two homeless addicts is portrayed with sensitivity and brutal honesty in acclaimed filmmaker Ashley McKenzie’s debut feature. Shot almost entirely in oblique close-ups to capture the disorientation and frustration of McKenzie’s characters, twentysomething junkies Blaise and Vanessa, Werewolf doggedly and courageously refuses to romanticize its characters lives. (The style suggests an affinity for Toronto minimalists such as Kazik Radwanski, and Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven.) Sleeping in tents, fighting with government bureaucrats, Blaise and Vanessa survive primarily through an underground economy. They harass people to let them cut their grass with a rusty old mower they haul over dirt roads and through rainstorms. Such scenes capture the futility, toil, and frustration in their lives with startling power, like some crack-addled version of the Stations of the Cross. It’s a testament to the skill of both McKenzie and the performers that they inspire empathy in us even as we find the characters’ actions perplexing and troubling. Werewolf confirms, boldly, the promise of McKenzie’s much-lauded earlier short films.”
MARCH 2: Chasing Great (dirs. Justin Pemberton and Michelle Walshe) – Transmission Films synopsis: “This intimate documentary follows Richie McCaw’s final 365 days leading the All Blacks, as the most capped rugby player of all time attempts to pull-off his most ambitious goal yet – to end his career by becoming the first person to captain back-to-back World Cup wins.
“With surprising openness, the film dives into the mind of this élite sportsman who has spent the later part of his career perfecting the mental strength needed to perform so expertly in the face of extraordinary pressure. We witness the world of high performance sport through the eyes of this legendary player, who still sees himself as an ‘ordinary guy’ from small town New Zealand.
“This is a rare window into the life of New Zealand’s most famous son, who until now has maintained a very private life in the public eye.”
MARCH 2: Oh Lucy! (dir. Atsuko Hirayanagi) (DP: Paula Huidobro) – Synopsis from the film’s official website: “Oh Lucy! follows Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima in an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance), a single, emotionally unfulfilled woman, seemingly stuck with a drab, meaningless life in Tokyo. At least until she’s convinced by her niece, Mika (Shioli Kutsuna, Deadpool 2), to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named ‘Lucy.’ The new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett, Showtime’s ‘Penny Dreadful’). When John suddenly disappears from class, Setsuko travels halfway around the world in search of him, and in the outskirts of Southern California, family ties and past lives are tested as she struggles to preserve the dream and promise of ‘Lucy.'”
MARCH 2 (NYC), MARCH 16 (LA): Souvenir (dir. Bavo Defurne) (DPs: Philippe Guilbert and Virginie Saint-Martin) – Toronto International Film Festival synopsis by Piers Handling: “Isabelle Huppert can do no wrong these days. Her appetite for taking on a variety of different roles with a wide range of directors is exemplary. Well into her fifth decade as an actor, she has created a filmography second to none. With Souvenir she again shows how willing she is to challenge, explore, and expand her artistry.
“Here she plays Liliane, an apparently innocuous worker in a pâté factory. Quiet and unassuming, she is a model employee, happily putting in a day’s work with no fuss. Her job is mechanical and repetitive, but that suits her fine. At quitting time she returns home to sit on the couch and watch TV. Then, one day, a new worker joins the team. Jean (Kévin Azaïs), a young man who boxes in his spare time, is like a breath of fresh air and, intrigued by Liliane, is eager to become her friend. A platonic relationship forms and Liliane begins to enjoy the relief Jean offers from her previous homebody existence. But, as the two see more of each other, he grows convinced that she is not who she says she is: he thinks he saw her on television when he was young. Liliane denies it — until circumstances force her to confront his insistence about her past.
“This unusual relationship drama is handled exquisitely by director Bavo Defurne, who guides the film forward so subtly that its understatement becomes, alongside Huppert, its greatest strength.
“Plot never overwhelms character in Souvenir as it turns into a beautifully observed battle of perspectives between two friends at distinctly different points in their lives: the young optimist versus the jaded cynic who has stared disappointment in the face before.”
MARCH 2 (NYC), MARCH 9 (LA and other cities): Submission (dir. Richard Levine) (DP: Hillary Spera) – LA Film Festival synopsis by Roya Rastegar: “Professor Ted Swenson is a celebrated novelist, admired colleague and loving husband. When an ambitious and talented student shares her provocative writing with him, boundaries begin to blur between teacher and student. Swenson’s unresolved personal conflicts manifest and he finds himself unexpectedly losing his sense of self, as he begins a self-destructive obsession with his student.
“Based on the best-selling book Blue Angel by Francine Prose, and adapted by highly acclaimed film and television writer/director Richard Levine, this suspenseful drama features strong performances from Stanley Tucci, Addison Timlin, Kyra Sedgwick and Janeane Garofalo. The resulting film deftly blends comedy and controversy in its risqué portrayal of academic scandal and the traps of political correctness.”
MARCH 9: The Homeless Chorus Speaks (dir. Susan Polis Schutz) – Cinema Village synopsis: “The Homeless Chorus Speaks is a compelling documentary that creatively depicts a critical and timely social issue: people living without support and shelter. Using a unique community choir (Voices of Our City Choir) as a vehicle to tell the stories of people suffering with homelessness, the film — like all of Susan Polis Schutz’s documentaries — effectively puts a human face on a crucial problem and makes it strikingly clear just how easily someone can end up living on the streets.”
MARCH 9 (NYC), MARCH 16 (LA): Itzhak (dir. Alison Chernick) – Synopsis from the film’s official website: “From Schubert to Strauss, Bach to Brahms, Mozart to…Billy Joel, Itzhak Perlman’s violin playing transcends mere performance to evoke the celebrations and struggles of real life; ‘praying with the violin,’ says renowned Tel Aviv violinmaker Amnon Weinstein. Alison Chernick’s enchanting documentary looks beyond the sublime musician, to see the polio survivor whose parents emigrated from Poland to Israel, the young man who struggled to be taken seriously as a music student when schools saw only his disability. As charming and entrancing as the famous violinist himself, Itzhak is a portrait of musical virtuosity seamlessly enclosed in warmth, humor, and above all, love.”
MARCH 9 (LA), MARCH 16 (NYC): Our Blood Is Wine (dir./DP: Emily Railsback) – City Cinemas Village East Cinema synopsis: “Filmmaker Emily Railsback and award-winning sommelier Jeremy Quinn provide intimate access to rural family life in the Republic of Georgia as they explore the rebirth of 8,000 year old winemaking traditions almost lost during the period of Soviet rule. By using unobtrusive iPhone technology, Railsback brings the voices and ancestral legacies of modern Georgians directly to the viewer, revealing an intricate and resilient society that has survived regular foreign invasion and repeated attempts to erase Georgian culture. The revival of traditional winemaking is the central force driving the powerful, independent and autonomous nation to find its 21st century identity.”
MARCH 9 (streaming on Netflix): The Outsider (dir. Martin Zandvliet) (DP: Camilla Hjelm) – Bloom Media synopsis: “A lone wolf bathed in the neon lights of post-war Japan, U.S. Army deserter Nick Lowell (Jared Leto) is released from jail and unleashed on an unforgiving city. Standing before him: a nation in conflict where concrete streets are paved over old world traditions with the oil and blood of modern industry. Traditional Yakuza families – once heirs to the Samurai code – clash with their contemporary rivals, led by ruthless street thugs.
“Aimless and haunted by regret, Nick sets out to repay a debt to his prison cellmate Kiyoshi (Tadanobu Asano) and the old Osaka family that bought his freedom. An unlikely student of the rituals and teachings of old Yakuza, Nick’s ruthless drive drags him deeper and deeper into the Japanese underworld, where a forbidden love affair threatens his brotherhood. When war breaks out with a rival crime family, it’s Nick’s unflinching loyalty and warrior instincts that protect his new family in the face of annihilation.”
MARCH 9: A Wrinkle in Time (dir. Ava DuVernay) – Walt Disney Pictures synopsis, via Rotten Tomatoes: “Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is a typical middle school student struggling with issues of self-worth who is desperate to fit in. As the daughter of two world-renowned physicists, she is intelligent and uniquely gifted, as is Meg’s younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), but she has yet to realize it for herself. Making matters even worse is the baffling disappearance of Mr. Murry (Chris Pine), which torments Meg and has left her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) heartbroken. Charles Wallace introduces Meg and her fellow classmate Calvin (Levi Miller) to three celestial guides-Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling)-who have journeyed to Earth to help search for their father, and together they set off on their formidable quest. Traveling via a wrinkling of time and space known as tessering, they are soon transported to worlds beyond their imagination where they must confront a powerful evil. To make it back home to Earth, Meg must look deep within herself and embrace her flaws to harness the strength necessary to defeat the darkness closing in on them.”
MARCH 16 (in theaters & on demand): Allure (dirs. Carlos Sanchez and Jason Sanchez) (DP: Sara Mishara) – Samuel Goldwyn Films synopsis: “Laura (Evan Rachel Wood) works as a house cleaner for her father’s company but her personal life is not so pristine. Rough around the edges, looking for love in all the wrong places, her heartbreaking behavior points to hardships of the past. One day on the job, in yet another house, Laura meets Eva (Julia Sarah Stone), a quiet teenager unhappy with her disciplined life. In Eva, Laura rediscovers an innocent tenderness. In Laura, Eva finds a thrilling rebel who can bring her into unknown territories. The mutual attraction soon morphs into obsession as Laura convinces Eva to run away and secretly come live with her, perilously raising the stakes for the young, impressionable girl as Laura’s emotional instability becomes increasingly clear. As their world closes in, they must unearth certain truths to find a way out.”
MARCH 16 (in theaters & on digital platforms), APRIL 24 (DVD): Dear Dictator (formerly titled Coup d’Etat) (dirs. Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse) – The Hollywood Reporter’s Napa Valley Film Festival review by Justin Lowe: “Whether it’s crazed Communists threatening to rain nukes on half the planet or overgrown frat boys bullying the other half of the world into cowering submission, there’s not much humor to be found in contemporary world affairs. Clearly what’s needed is a pointed satire highlighting the inherent absurdity governing global politics today, and Coup d’Etat may just fit the bill.
“Equating a long-simmering political rebellion with the war zone that is the American public high school system, Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse’s feature creatively cribs from the Mean Girls and Election playbooks, humorously skewering international despots just as gleefully as teen queen bees.
“Recognizing that high school freshmen make for overly familiar targets, the filmmakers instead single out sophomore and sworn rebel Tatiana Mills (Odeya Rush). Tat has a problem, or more precisely, several of them: the three super-popular girls led by Sarvia (Fish Myrr) who call themselves the ‘slushies,’ a mashup of ‘sluts’ and ‘lushes.’ Inspired as this moniker may be, the real problem is that the trio doesn’t really live up to their chosen representation, neither hooking up nor drinking up with any regularity, so it’s no wonder Tat remains convinced that they’ve got no business ruling the school. However, their constant humiliations to ensure that Tatiana remains relegated to outsider status aren’t just totally annoying, they’re totally succeeding.
“Shunned by most of her classmates for her vaguely anarchist leanings and devotion to classic hardcore punk, Tat’s not about to attain prom queen status anytime soon. And while that’s totally okay with her, her single mother Darlene (Katie Holmes) would prefer if she’d try rounding off some of her rougher edges, but that would mean giving up her self-consciously alternative fashion choices and surly attitude. So in her continuing campaign to foment disruption, Tat begins a regular correspondence with reviled Caribbean dictator General Anton Vincent (Michael Caine) as a tactic to hijack a class assignment ineptly conceived by her social studies teacher (Jason Biggs). Surprisingly, Vincent responds to Tat’s handwritten missives enthusiastically, as they begin a frequent exchange of letters, vociferously sharing complaints about their perceived rivals and opponents.
“When one imagines Caine as an international villain (a highly entertaining undertaking even in itself), he’d likely be an erudite, Bond-worthy operator, not the scruffy communist strongman with a straggly gray Castro beard that General Vincent is made out to be. Caine of course plays the strongman as an entitled, misunderstood borderline psychopath badly in need of some real-world readjustment.
“So when Vincent’s violent and corrupt government collapses under assault by U.S.-backed rebels, he flees to the only safe haven he’s sure is totally under the radar: Tatiana’s suburban Georgia home. Shocked to find her pen pal skulking around outside her house, Tat secretly takes him in, right under her mother’s nose. They rapidly form an unexpected alliance after she agrees to help Vincent regain control of his country and in return, he promises to coach her on how she can single-handedly subjugate her classmates.
“Although dominating high school social circles may not compare with the widespread suppression of human rights in an island backwater, Tatiana and General Vincent have a good deal in common, from their disdain for posers to their appreciation for a good takedown. Rush, who’s been gradually gaining momentum with several indie releases this year (including a supporting role in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird), latches onto Tatiana’s rebellious antisocial campaign with enthusiasm. Although she mostly plays it straight, she’s not above taking a pratfall or two as Addario and Syracuse mix in some slapstick along with all of the political agitation.
“Admittedly, these scenes can’t touch shots of Caine attired in an ill-fitting tracksuit and wearing a ridiculously inadequate wig and moustache disguise, or furiously riding an adult three-wheeler in front of rear-projected street scenes. Caine, in fact, hasn’t had a chance to push a performance this far into the realm of absurdity in quite some time. So it’s a delight to watch him take on this caricature of an unhinged strongman with abundant brio and apparent conviction, even if events may lead General Vincent in unexpected directions. Holmes slips smoothly back into a substantial comedic role by rejecting the humiliations thrust upon her by her creepy boss (Seth Green) and finding the determination to stand up for her nonconformist daughter.
“Married writing-directing team Syracuse and Addario, who experienced a bit of a misfire with 2016’s Amateur Night, prove they can totally bring it with Coup d’Etat (even inserting a play on Tatiana’s nickname in the title). Playful, irreverent and unafraid to be politically incorrect, the pair script with assurance and direct with stylish understatement, pairing character and physical comedy to entertaining effect.”
MARCH 16: Flower (dir. Max Winkler) (DP: Carolina Costa) – The Orchard synopsis: “Rebellious, quick-witted Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch) is a 17-year-old firecracker living with her single mom Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) and mom’s new boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker) in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. When Bob’s mentally unbalanced son Luke (Joey Morgan) arrives from rehab to live with the family, Erica finds her domestic and personal life overwhelmed. With Luke and her sidekicks Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet) in tow, Erica acts out by exposing a dark secret of high-school teacher Will (Adam Scott), with perilous results; their teenage kicks become a catalyst for growing up in unexpected and unpredictable ways. Mixing dark comedy and teenage angst writer-director Max Winkler (Ceremony) and co-writer Matt Spicer (Ingrid Goes West) re-imagine an unproduced script by Alex McAulay, creating a star vehicle for blossoming talent Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall, Why Him?) and elevating the teen movie to new heights.”
MARCH 16: Furlough (dir. Laurie Collyer) (DP: Bérénice Eveno) – IFC Center synopsis: “The latest comedy by Laurie Collyer (Sherrybaby), taking a spin on the road movie. When a rowdy inmate (Melissa Leo) gets one weekend out of prison to visit her ailing mother, the rookie corrections officer (Tessa Thompson) assigned to keep an eye on her struggles to keep her in line during their emergency furlough. With Whoopi Goldberg, Anna Paquin, Edgar Ramirez, and La La Anthony.”
MARCH 16: Josie (dir. Eric England) (DP: Zoe White) – Cinema Village synopsis: “Hank (Dylan McDermott), a solitary man living a dull existence in the sleepy, Southern town raises eyebrows when he develops a questionable relationship with Josie (Sophie Turner), a recently transplanted high school student.”
MARCH 16 (NYC), MARCH 23 (LA): Keep the Change (dir. Rachel Israel) – Quad Cinema synopsis: “Free of cynicism and full of wit and warmth, this offbeat comedy charts the romance between tactless David (Brandon Polansky) and ultra-sunny Sarah (Samantha Elisofon), who meet at a social program for adults with autism in New York. He has no interest in being there and she has a penchant for clichés that drive him crazy. But antagonism eventually gives way to attraction and writer/director Israel’s unfussy embrace of her characters’ quirks is as refreshing as it is subtly radical. With a perfectly cast Jessica Walter as David’s judgmental mother.”
MARCH 16: Maineland (dir. Miao Wang) – SXSW synopsis: “Filmed over three years in China and the U.S., Maineland is a multi-layered coming-of-age tale that follows two teenagers of China’s wealthy elite as they settle into a boarding school in blue-collar rural Maine. Part of the enormous wave of “parachute students” enrolling in U.S. private schools, bubbly, fun-loving Stella and introspective Harry come seeking a Western-style education, escape from the dreaded Chinese college entrance exam, and the promise of a Hollywood-style U.S. high school experience. But as their fuzzy visions of the American dream slowly gain more clarity, worlds collide as their relationship to home and country takes on a surprisingly poignant new aspect.”
MARCH 16 (streaming on Netflix): Take Your Pills (dir. Alison Klayman) (DP: Julia Liu) – Synopsis from the film’s official website: “The pressure to achieve more, do more, and be more is part of being human – and in the age of Adderall and Ritalin, achieving that can be as close as the local pharmacy. No longer just ‘a cure for excitable kids,’ prescription stimulants are in college classrooms, on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley…any place ‘the need to succeed’ slams into ‘not enough hours in the day.’ But there are costs. In the insightful Netflix documentary Take Your Pills, award-winning documentarian Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry) focuses on the history, the facts, and the pervasiveness of cognitive-enhancement drugs in our amped-up era of late-stage-capitalism. Executive produced by Maria Shriver and Christina Schwarzenegger, Take Your Pills examines what some view as a brave new world of limitless possibilities, and others see as a sped-up ride down a synaptic slippery slope, as these pills have become the defining drug of a generation.”
MARCH 23 (NYC and LA), APRIL (other cities): Beauty and the Dogs (dirs. Khaled Walid Barsaoui and Kaouther Ben Hania) – Oscilloscope Laboratories synopsis: “When Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, is raped by police officers after leaving a party, she is propelled into a harrowing night in which she must fight for her rights even though justice lies on the side of her tormentors. Employing impressive cinematic techniques and anchored by a tour-de-force performance from newcomer Mariam Al Ferjani, Kaouther Ben Hania’s Beauty and the Dogs tells an urgent, unapologetic, and important story head-on. A rare, startling film from a female Tunisian director, it’s a striking critique on a repressive society and a forcefully feminist rallying cry.”
MARCH 23: Ismael’s Ghosts (dir. Arnaud Desplechin) (DP: Irina Lubtchansky) – Film Society of Lincoln Center synopsis: “Phantoms swirl around Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), a filmmaker in the throes of writing a spy thriller based on the unlikely escapades of his brother, Ivan Dedalus (Louis Garrel). His only true source of stability, his relationship with Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg), is upended, as is the life of his Jewish documentarian mentor and father-in-law (László Szabó), when Ismael’s wife Carlotta (Marion Cotillard), who disappeared twenty years earlier, returns, and, like one of Hitchcock’s fragile, delusional femmes fatales, expects that her husband and father are still in thrall to her. A brilliant shape-shifter—part farce, part melodrama—Ismael’s Ghosts is finally about the process of creating a work of art and all the madness that requires.”
MARCH 23 (in theaters & on VOD): Madame (dir. Amanda Sthers) – Blue Fox Entertainment synopsis: “Anne (Toni Collette) and Bob (Harvey Keitel), a well-to-do American couple, have just moved to a beautiful manor house in romantic Paris. To impress their sophisticated friends, they decide to host a lavish dinner party, but must disguise their maid (Rossy de Palma) as a noblewoman to even out the number of guests. When the maid runs off with a wealthy guest, Anne must chase her around Paris to thwart the joyous and unexpected love affair.”
MARCH 28: The Gardener (dir. Sébastien Chabot) (DPs: Sébastien Chabot and Geneviève Ringuet) – The Landmark at 57 West synopsis: “The new documentary The Gardener reflects on the meaning of gardening and its impacts on our lives. Shortly before his passing at the age of 86, influential gardener and horticulturalist Frank Cabot recounts his personal quest for perfection at Les Quatre Vents, his twenty-acre English style garden and summer estate that was opened to a film crew for the first time ever in 2009. Nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Charlevoix County in Quebec, Les Quatre Vents has become one of the world’s foremost private gardens. Created over 75 years and three generations, it is an enchanted place of beauty and surprise, a horticultural masterpiece of the 21st century. Through the words of Cabot and his family, and with the participation of gardening experts and writers, the film looks back at this remarkable man’s personal story and the artistic philosophy that gave birth to one of the greatest gardens in the world.”
MARCH 30 (in theaters & on VOD): All I Wish (dir. Susan Walter) – City Cinemas Village East Cinema synopsis: “Senna Berges (Sharon Stone), a free-spirited designer, lives on the edge. Despite attempts by her strong-willed mother (Ellen Burstyn) to get her to settle down, Senna charts a chaotic path and seems destined for a life of disappointment. Then…at her 46th birthday Senna meets Adam (Tony Goldwyn), a charismatic lawyer who connects with her in the most powerful and profound way. True to form, Senna screws and happiness is not to be. But when Senna and Adam serendipitously reunite a year later at her 47th birthday party, Senna’s luck changes with the opportunity to find true love again.”
MARCH 30 (in theaters & on VOD): Birthmarked (dir. Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais) (DP: Josée Deshaies) – Vertical Entertainment synopsis: “Two respected scientists (Toni Collette, Matthew Goode) decide to quit their jobs for their biggest experiment to date – parenthood! Raising three very different children, they seek to prove that everyone has the same potential to become anything they choose.”
MARCH 30 (in theaters), APRIL 3 (digital platforms): Outside In (dir. Lynn Shelton) – IndieWire’s Toronto International Film Festival review by Eric Kohn: “Lynn Shelton is the rare American filmmaker to oscillate between contemplative dramas (We Go Way Back, Touchy Feely) and playful situational comedies (Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister). As such, her filmmaking voice — discounting the prolific TV direction of the last few years — extends across multiple genres and doesn’t really fit into any of them.
“Her latest, Outside In, is another somber, low-key drama, but its premise could just as easily work as cringe comedy. Both modes operate in service of minimalist character studies about people desperate for companionship, who hover on the verge of bad decisions in their attempts to set things right. Shelton’s work is understated, but elevates seemingly forgettable scenarios with a wise, humane approach that makes even a lesser work like Outside In a cut above the market standard.
“Jay Duplass and Edie Falco anchor the movie with some of the very best performances in both of their careers. As the story begins, Chris (Duplass) has been released from prison in Washington, where he’s been incarcerated for 20 years on vague charges. He’s 40 years old and alienated from the only community he’s ever known, but finds one bright light in the quiet small town: Carol (Falco), his old high-school teacher, with whom he has stayed in touch over the years.
“The pair developed a bond as Chris grew up behind bars that suggests a forbidden romance has started to take shape before the movie begins; once back in town, it’s only a matter of time before their romantic chemistry starts to evolve. Carol’s trapped in a loveless marriage, while butting heads with her rebellious daughter Hildy (Kaitlin Dever), and Chris represents an escape from the mundanity of her life. But he’s also a threat to that very same stability.
“This conundrum unfolds under pretty routine circumstances, but that only allows its actors to enrich the material with a profound degree of credibility. Falco, so often a loud and combative screen presence, gives her most fragile, heartfelt performance, with her somber eyes and frozen half-smile defining the tone of the movie as whole. Duplass, meanwhile, maintains a spacey detachment throughout that exudes the sense of disconnection his character experiences from the world around him. It’s a quietly tragic performance in a movie that relishes that mood.
“Shelton follows these characters through a series of whispered conversations and confrontations about whether or not they stand a chance together. In the process, Outside In works through the morality of their bond, and even as it builds its momentum around a fundamental question — will they or won’t they? — it doesn’t arrive at any firm answers, carrying the narrative along with a contemplative air. Nothing shocking or groundbreaking happens over the course of its somewhat overlong 109 minutes. But it maintains a remarkable consistency to the way in which it explores the dynamic of Carol’s uneven family life and Chris’ potential to screw things up on the path to rebuilding his life.
“Shelton finds a subtle poetry in small moments, from a prolonged shot of Chris speeding through the neighborhood on his bike, enjoying his newfound freedom, to Carol gazing out at a rainy landscape. These scenes enrich the mounting desires at the root of the movie, and deepen its themes, but they also help root the movie in a precise space. The Pacific Northwest, which serves as the backdrop for all of Shelton’s work, serves as an ideal setting for this subdued portrait of suburban discontent.
“Outside In was produced by Netflix, and it seems to have been conceived with the platform in mind. It’s the paragon of Netflix filmmaking done right: Despite its lush visuals, the movie could work just as well on the small screen, and its plot hardly demands anything more than the feature-length treatment. You wouldn’t want to binge on multiple episodes of this story, but as a snapshot of genuine emotion, it goes on just long enough.”