Lynne d Johnson



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08.16.05 02:39 AM

on the outs - must see film

On Sunday, New York City experienced some of the most miserable weather in years. While sitting in a Chelsea restaurant eating brunch, I watched out the window as a torrentail downpour erupted. It ceased, and then stormed again. We even had to hail down a cab to drive us just a block up to where our car was parked. As we sat in the car, watching the rain continue its crashing dance against our windshield, our eyes happened upon a poster for a film. The poster showed the faces of three young girls, with the title On The Outs written across it.

For some strange reason, I seem to be consistently drawn to films about troubled female teenagers. I could have been a troubled female teenager. In fact, I think I was a troubled female teenager. I have a teenage niece. I don't want her to be a troubled female teenager. And so, I watch these films. These films hit home. And thankfully, not too closely. Like Thirteen, that I saw two years ago. The film was a dysfunctional-family drama, filled with horror beating you over the head like a brick. It was unnerving and troubling to see that this is possibly what the lives of teenage girls are made of.

So in seeing the poster for On The Outs, my curiousity arose. The rain quieted down again, and after returning an item to TJ Max, we drove over to The IFC Center to see if the film was playing. It was going to play in the next half hour, and so we decided to watch the film. I didn't know much about it, other than what the poster revealed, or what I thought I had read somewhere about a month ago. The film is based on the lives of three Jersey City (Brick City) Latina youth whose paths cross in-and-out of juvenile detention.

One girl is a drug dealer. Another, a crack mother. And the final, is a girl whose world turns topsy turvy once she starts dating a drug dealer. The film's docudrama style is chilling, and the acting heartrending. It is actually the acting that warrants attention, even more than the story itself. Murphy's Law becomes a little too apparent, and a little too overplayed. Most of the teens I know would probably suck their teeth and roll their necks with displeasure at the obviousness of the message that the film hopes to get across. Yet it's the complexities of the characters presented by the actors, and not the story on its own, that offer the film its redemption.

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