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Brian Tyree Henry stars in The Outside Story.Courtesy of Vortex Media

  • The Outside Story
  • Written and directed by Casimir Nozkowski
  • Starring Brian Tyree Henry, Sonequa Martin-Green and Sunita Mani
  • Classification N/A; 85 minutes

Critic’s pick

Every once in a while, along comes a film whose storyline takes place over the course of a single day. They can be dramas (12 Angry Men), comedies (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) or romances (Before Sunrise). With his feature debut The Outside Story, writer-director Casimir Nozkowski offers a movie that beautifully combines all three genres.

Nozkowski excels at unfolding his story in layers over the course of 85 breezy minutes. The film opens on Charles Young, a depressed film editor played by prolific character actor Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, Godzilla vs. Kong). He seems to live alone in his second-floor Brooklyn apartment; he recently broke up with his girlfriend, and he hasn’t gone outside in quite some time. (Sounds relatable.) But when Charles steps out to tip his delivery person, he unwittingly locks himself out. This sets the entire plot in motion, for the reclusive editor has a deadline to meet and few options for getting back inside.

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Henry plays Charles Young, a film editor who gets locked out of his New York apartment.Courtesy of Vortex Media

One reason The Outside Story works is that it doesn’t follow an established template. Nozkowski pre-empts speculation by divulging Young’s backstory at a steady pace. And while the script is laudable for its gentle laughs, it is Henry’s portrayal of Young that holds our attention. This is Henry’s first leading role, and he deftly treads the line between comedy and drama, giving space to Charles’s emotional scars, while also playing up the absurd situational comedy.

He’s assisted by a host of supporting actors playing a variety of neighbourhood types: fellow tenants who he’s never talked to before, a traffic cop on the prowl, a couple of bratty kids and his girlfriend. They either help the plot move forward, assist Charles in evolving as a person or provide gentle comic foils. Each adds to the film’s central low-key charm.

While The Outside Story was filmed pre-pandemic, it still acts as a reminder of the importance of human connection – and, thanks to an amusing script and excellent performances, avoids turning such a message into corny cinematic fodder. The Outside Story will leave you smiling and ready to connect with your loved ones once again.

The Outside Story is available on-demand, including Apple TV/iTunes and Google Play, starting May 4

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.

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