Theatrical prospects are iffy, but "On the Outs" could leave an impression in fest and noncommercial venues. Gritty docu-style drama skillfully entwines stories of three young women drifting in and out of a Jersey City juvenile detention center. At-risk teens might profit from exposure to this cautionary pic.

Theatrical prospects are iffy, but “On the Outs” could leave an impression in fest and noncommercial venues. Gritty docu-style drama, co-directed by Lori Silverbush and Michael Skolnik from Silverbush’s fact-inspired script, skillfully entwines stories of three young women drifting in and out of a Jersey City juvenile detention center. Fluid DV lensing and sometimes seamless, sometimes deliberately skittish editing intensify the overall feel of meticulously detailed verisimilitude. At-risk teens might profit from exposure to this cautionary pic.

Film serves as an attention-grabbing showcase for three promising actresses in sharply drawn lead roles. Oz (Judy Marte of “Raising Victor Vargas”) is a hardboiled 17-year-old drug dealer who barks orders at her male underlings, beats any guy who gives her lip, yet maintains a soft spot in her heart for mentally challenged brother (Dominic Colon). Fifteen-year-old Suzette (Anny Mariano) falls for the neighborhood smoothie who impregnates her, then leaves her holding a murder weapon. Crack-addicted Marisol (Paola Mendoza) struggles to clean up her act so she can regain custody of her child, but old habits die hard. Affecting finale provides hint of better life for only one character.

On The Outs

Production

A Youth House Prods. and Fader Films production. Produced by Michael Silverbush, Lori Silverbush. Directed by Lori Silverbush, Michael Skolnik. Screenplay, Silverbush.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Mariana Sanchez de Antonano; editor, Martha Skolnik; music, Ricardo Leigh, Brian Satz; production designer, Katya Blumenberg. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 12, 2004. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Anny Mariano, Judy Marte, Paola Mendoza, Dominic Colon, Clarence "Don" Hutchenson, Flaco Navaja, Lee Brock, Autumn Collier.

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