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On the Outs (Unrated)

Re-release Date: January 20th, 2006 (Village East Cinemas and AMC Empire 25) by Polychrome Pictures.
Original Release Date: July 13,2005 (Film Forum)
The Cast: Anny Mariano, Judy Marte, Paola Mendoza.
Directed by Lori Silverbush and Michael Skolnik.

BASIC PREMISE: Three different teenage girls get into trouble that leads them into the same juvenile hall.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This film relies heavily on the performances of the three actresses who portray the troubled teenagers. Fortunately, each actress gives a very convincing and impressive performance, particularly Judy Marte who plays a drug dealer. She gave a breakthrough performance in the film Raising Victor Vargas and continues to shine here--hopefully she will be seen in many more films to come. The plot is simple at, at times, redundant as each girl gets deeper into trouble. Fortunately, there is enough at stake for one to care about them. For example, one girl (Mendoza) has a son who is taken away from her by social services because she is a drug addict. Another girl (Mariano) is pregnant by an older, troubled guy. Obviously, violence enters the picture in each story, but it never becomes a gangster film in the strictest sense. This is primarily a drama without any graphic violence that feels a lot like a documentary, especially because it is shot in digital and takes place in Jersey City, where there have been many unfortunate circumstances just like the ones in this film.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The film is filled with a lot of brutal honesty and difficult decisions that most people hopefully don't have to make. However, there are people who are stuck in a troubled situation that they can't get out of, not because they are cruel or plain stupid but because they don't have a stable life at home. The parents of each girl are not much different than the girls themselves; as the saying goes, "the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree". This is a very heartbreaking, touching film with depressing scenes, but each scene feels very real. It is hard to know whether or not it helps them in the long run when they face reality in the juvenile hall; they may or may not get back into trouble. However, facing reality is definitely a good way that leads to mental/emotional stability.



THE BOTTOM LINE: A heartbreaking film with three very strong performances and a very realistic, honest script that brings the characters to life.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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