Review courtesy of LastHouseOnTheRight.com. Their review is from a screener copy provided by the filmmakers.
We’ve all seen numerous shows and films showing happy new families united by the noble institution of adoption. In fact, adoption is often the happy ending at the end of a heartwarming movie. From Little Orphan Annie on through to the Blind Side, the list goes on and on.
But what about those kids who never get their happy ending? What happens to the child whose ride never comes to pick them up? Age Out begins by exploring this theme, and meanders its way into an improbable whodunit combined with a strained, muted love story.
We meet our protagonist, played by Tye Sheridan, as he reaches eighteen years old, thus being forced out of his state foster home and into the wider world without so much as a place to stay. Forgoing pursuing education, he sets to work, and arranges low-income, short-term rental housing for himself. Through a series of terrible setbacks, he finds himself both hounded by the police and associating with higher society via an unlikely encounter with a mystery woman who may know more about his situation than she lets on, or even realizes herself.
Age Out starts well enough, shining a light on the bleak prospects and numerous obstacles facing those with no support system in life. The despair and isolation of such a life is well-portrayed, with the notable lack of soundtrack or ambient noise creating a deafening silence, stifling any warmth or comfort for the audience. This stark silence is well-utilized, and the audience shares the protagonist’s sense of hopelessness and fear.
Unfortunately, the film devolves into a somewhat hackneyed murder mystery, seemingly getting away from its theme of the plight of the unadopted. Clearly, the earlier events set the stage for what is to come, but I frankly would’ve preferred more of a look into the life of a young man making his own way, without the extraordinary circumstances of the murder.
The film is generally well-acted, if unremarkably so. It feels as though the director, AJ Edwards, wanted muted, subdued performances from the cast, and that indeed is the result. Tonally, this does fit in with the film’s overall feel of desperation and fatalist inevitability. Indeed, as soon as the protagonist is released from government custody at the beginning, it seems like a mere matter of time before he finds himself in it again.
Overall, I would say that Age Out is a decent film, though it fails to truly deliver on the potential of its premise. If you are looking for a bleak, depressing look at how life can run off the rails with no safety net in place, then Age Out is a good example. However, if you’re looking for a good mystery, there are better out there.