Since 2017 Brian Tyree Henry has shown a good nose for great films: from the decent indie “Crown heights“To the blockbuster hit”Godzilla versus Kong,”- his side appearances often shine brightly in these overcrowded ensembles. But directors seldom afford the charming, cozy actors with the leading roles that his talent so deserves. In his directorial debut the humble comedy “The outer story, ” Casimir Nozkowski allows Henry to stretch his romantic muscles to tell a vivid story of jealousy, missed opportunities, and rediscovering the best of life.
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Henry plays Charles Young, a TCM film editor who is working on a tribute to the fictional director Gardner St James. Charles used to be a documentary filmmaker. Posters for “The thin blue line” and “I am not your negro”Decorate his walls. Now he’s developing memoriam videos for entertainers currently living in anticipation of their death. In the case of St. James, Charles can sometimes predict the death of a celebrity. In other moments he cannot foresee the tragedy. On this day, the editor feels miserable after an unexpected setback. It has resulted in the empty tin trays stacking up in his apartment, the packaging boxes stacked around him, and Charles cocooning his large body behind a cardigan, reserved and broken. His ex-girlfriend Isha (Sonequa Martin-Green) moves out.
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We don’t see much of Isha, but we hear all about her. While Charles’ neighbors barely remember him, especially the fourth floor gay principle Andre (Michael Cyril Creighton); Elena (Olivia Edward), a little girl practicing a piano recital upstairs in the piano; and the pregnant woman who occupies the stairs of the adjacent building. You all know Isha. Even the couple’s delivery man from the local Mexican restaurant (Jordan Carlos) values her very much (she always gives good tips). None of these characters are deeply sketched. Rather, they illustrate Charles’ separation from his little corner of Brooklyn and his need to re-enter the world.
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Charles dives back into the world, but not as he expected. He accidentally locks himself out of his apartment. His location creates a couple of obstacles: he has no shoes on, just a dollar in cash, and most importantly, his boss is breathing down his neck to receive a tribute to St. James that’s only available on his desktop. Few performers can show frustration without showing total anger as Henry can. He combines face gag, impatient tsks, and a quick speech pattern for a sarcastic effect as a pesky traffic cop (Sunita Mani) Tickets him overzealously for a bevy of minor infractions. Likewise, Henry’s brief interactions with an angry Andre, who is busy with two recently arrived Oslo tourists in a group of three, also makes for great laughs.
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The weak points in any relationship are usually apparent from the jump. And we see the rifts between Charles and Isha very early on. In between Charles’ run-ins with his little-known neighbors, he remembers meeting Isha. The reviews of the house party with a wafer-thin filter from DP Zelmira GainzaShow Henry in all of its romantic glory as he entertains the soaked Isha with lovable jokes that come with a dorky flair. We notice how Charles once showed an adventurous spirit; In the end he talks to Isha, but feels withdrawn at parties: She finds him sitting alone on a couch at the gathering. Since that day, Charles has lost his daring drive. He refuses to have new experiences with Isha – they always order takeaways in the same places – and emotionally pushes her away in the process.
“The Outside Story” offers very little mystery. Even if Charles forms a platonic bond with the elderly widow Sara (Lynda Gravatt), a local matriarch who is building a new independent life and working with the calm Elena, Nozkowski’s film remains in a shooting cycle. The intimate scale shows that Charles, sometimes with the aforementioned traffic cop, is exploring local restaurants and parks. After a while, his survey loses some of its momentum (really, how can he be so clueless about his surroundings?).
His struggle to re-enter his apartment, the way he himself examines his jealousy, and the way he wonders if some love is meant does not add any additional outburst to the simple procedure. Mainly because those thoughtful contours on a broken man’s little voyage are too late to have any significant impact. This is a shame because The Outside Story aims to reveal a profound message regarding forgiveness: Is infidelity ever acceptable?
While the delightful cast allows for this easy comedy, it is Henry who steers this ship into gentle waters. He fills Charles’ substantial reawakening with great tenderness. His meticulous dramatic choices that make this Curmudgeon a treasure come to fruition when Isha finally reappears. And his climatically serious plea for one last chance is the impression of the sincerity of “The Outside Story”, an absolute showcase for Brian Tyree Henry’s immense romantic range. [B]