Starring: Tessa Thompson, Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg
Director: Laurie Collyer
Running Time: 83 mins
Time Out is an American film about a rookie correctional officer who is given the task of escorting a convict to visit her dying mother, but keeping the prisoner under control proves a greater challenge than first thought.
Finding a comfortable middleground between enjoyable buddy comedy and challenging drama, Time Out is an engrossing watch throughout, albeit never quite as entertaining or powerful as it aims to be.
Despite two excellent lead performances from Tessa Thompson and Melissa Leo, the film is unfortunately caught in two minds throughout between comedy and drama, an internal conflict that frustratingly cheapens what could have been a very hard-hitting story, and undermines the fun factor of what could have also been an enjoyable road trip buddy movie.
The perfect comedy-drama is so difficult to get right, and while Time Out impressively manages to balance its lighter and darker sides throughout, the film arguably does so a little too well for its own good.
With a story that talks about not judging a book by its cover, breaking the rules and living a little, and the rights of those who you may think don’t deserve any, there’s a lot that Time Out has to say, and a lot of it is a lot more serious than it often makes out.
While it does well to lighten the mood from time to time with a heartwarming and enjoyable buddy dynamic between corrections officer Tessa Thompson and prisoner Melissa Leo, the depth and power of those dramatic themes is without a doubt the film’s strongest suit, and deserve a lot more focus than ultimately proves the case.
Throughout, the film feels like a moderately pleasant buddy comedy punctuated by moments of powerful pathos, but I can’t help but feel the same story would have been so more effective if that were the other way around.
Having a lighter streak is by no means a bad thing, but when there’s so much riveting and potentially powerful depth at play, it seems a bit of a wasted opportunity to tell the story in this more enjoyable and upbeat vein.
In short, Time Out is an undeniably captivating and enjoyable movie that impresses with insightful themes alongside pleasant and light-hearted humour. It straddles the line between comedy and drama brilliantly throughout, albeit ultimately to its own detriment.
It’s an engaging watch, but it really lacks the power its story so clearly wants to have, squandering a handful of excellent dramatic themes with a little too much focus on the lighter side of things. So, that’s why I’m giving Time Out a 7.2 overall.