Stepping “Outside In” to Free Themselves from Their Personal Prisons

Every director strives for honesty, but few achieve it so sincerely as Lynn Shelton does in Outside In, an independent drama about a man trying to reconnect with small town life and family after being paroled from prison for a crime he did not commit but still took the blame for.

Jay Duplass (who co-wrote the screenplay with Shelton) plays Chris, the convict who won some early freedom largely through the efforts of Carol (Eddie Falco in a masterfully honest performance) his former high school teacher who worked tirelessly for two years to convince the prison board of Chris’ innocence. Carol was Chris’ only outside contact and her weekly visits and phone calls enamored and gave hope to Chris. Carol, who is stuck in an emotionally constipated and loveless marriage, tries to maintain a proper distance with Chris.

Don’t get your hopes up. Outside In is really a story about a beautiful friendship than it is a romance. Shelton and the cast hone in on the small moments when people realize that propriety and emotional honesty can’t be easily reconciled. Anguish is the blood of life and family here.

Outside In earns its reality. It earns its honesty.