Review: On the Outs
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If On the Outs were shown to 12-year-olds in public schools it would keep some young girls from making the mistakes of the film's protagonists. But since moralists would rather deal with the consequences later than let children see a movie with dirty words and other unpleasantness, the cycle is repeating even as they debate.
Co-director (with Michael Skolnik) Lori Silverbush based her script on real stories of troubled teens and filmed them realistically with believable actors on the streets of Jersey City .
Suzette (Anny Mariano), Marisol (Paola Mendoza) and Oz (Judy Marte) meet when they happen to be in Juvie at the same time. It's Suzette's first time there (but not her last), having been found with a gun used by Terrell (Don Parma), who got her pregnant. Oz, a dealer, and Marisol, a user, are more frequent guests.
When Suzette's mother arranges an abortion for her she runs away to be with Terrell instead, not realizing how short the shelf life of a player's girlfriend is. Marisol already has a child, Autumn (Autumn Collier). The state puts her in foster care and makes it increasingly difficult for her mother to get her back, until Marisol gives up hope and returns to the street.
Although the ending holds out some hope for one of the girls, it seems nearly impossible for any of them to turn their lives around. Oz has a brother (Dominic Colon) who's a retarded asthmatic and a mother (Ana “Rok” Garcia) who's a junkie. It takes a tragedy for Oz to make the connection between her mother's agony and what she's inflicting on the people she sells to.
Drug dealing (including trading sex for drugs), armed robbery and other crimes are accepted as casually in this hood as a yard sale would be somewhere else. Even Russian Roulette is played offhandedly, without the drama of The Deer Hunter. Except for one scene of a motivational speaker in Juvie On the Outs merely shows things as they are, letting viewers draw their own conclusions about the need for change.
It would be nice to see the three stars playing sophisticated, upscale college students in their next films, but Hollywood typecasting is harder to change than ghetto crime. What's certain is that all three should be seen again.
Steve Warren is a local actor and film reviewer. His reviews can also be seen weekly in the Sunday Paper.
On the Outs
Rating: (3 out of 4)
Directed by: Lori Silverbush, Michael Skolnik
Written by: Lori Silverbush
Starring: Anny Mariano, Judy Marte, Paola Mendoza, Dominic Colon, Flaco Navaja, Danny Rivera, Don Parma
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