On The Outs is a hard-hitting look at the life of teenage girls in inner city America. Set in Jersey City, the film follows the vaguely interconnected lives of three young women struggling to survive in a community where the odds are stacked high against them. Suzette (Anny Mariano) is a 15-year-old whose stable life falls apart when she falls for a much older guy. Marisol (Paola Mendoza, who also co-wrote the script) is a single mother with a debilitating crack habit. Oz (Judy Marte) is a tough drug dealer who takes care of her mentally challenged brother and resents her drug-addled mom. The three meet in a juvenile detention centre and are forced to confront the choices they made that led them there. The script was developed based on true stories the filmmakers heard while running a writing and acting program in a real juvenile detention centre, and it shows. The characters, their language and their situations feel incredibly real, frighteningly so at times. Adding to the honesty of the script is the amazing acting by the three young leads and the direction, which uses very close hand-held shots to immerse you in the girls' claustrophobic world. Though sometimes difficult to watch, On the Outs is a remarkably story and the end gives a scrap of redemption that suggests that things might just get better for some of these girls. (Youth House/Fader)