3 user 7 critic

Out of My Hand (2015)

1:57 | Trailer
A struggling Liberian rubber plantation worker risks everything to discover a new life as a Yellow Cab driver in New York City.


Takeshi Fukunaga
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Bishop Blay ... Cisco
Zenobia Taylor Zenobia Taylor ... Joy
Duke Murphy Dennis Duke Murphy Dennis ... Francis
Rodney Rogers Beckley Rodney Rogers Beckley ... Marvin
Shelley Molad ... Maria
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Patricia Dillon Patricia Dillon ... Church Goer
Timothy Laurel Harrison ... Deaf Woman
Charles Justo ... John
Shivantha Wijesinha ... Rob


In the Liberian countryside, Cisco's quiet life as a rubber plantation worker is disrupted by a workers' strike. Risking everything to embark on a new life, he accepts a chance invitation to New York, where he immerses himself in its small Liberian community. But when Cisco meets Jacob, a former Liberian child soldier, he is forced to confront his difficult past. The film is a modern twist on a classic immigrant story, shot on locations in Liberia and New York. "Out of My Hand" is only the second foreign-production narrative feature film ever shot in Liberia and the first to be made in association with Liberia Movie Union, an affiliate of Liberian government. The film was premiered in the Panorama section at Berlinale and won Grand Jury Prize at LA Film Festival in 2015.

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Official Sites:

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USA | Liberia



Release Date:

13 November 2015 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Imperfect Films,Television See more »
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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


Cinematographer Ryo Murakami died from malaria after returning to New York City from Liberia. See more »

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User Reviews

Sometimes the American dream is a necessity.
8 July 2015 | by Sergeant_TibbsSee all my reviews

Out Of My Hand is one of many cross-country tales of immigration that find themselves drawn to film festivals such as Los Angeles, where it won its prestigious Best U.S. Fiction Award. It's a procedural film in the ways it studies the laborious routines of its Liberian protagonist Cisco, and it's naturalistic in style rather than capitalizing on the state of his desperation. This is a revealing perspective on the elephant in the room of the land of hope and dreams. Juxtapositioning two worlds and two styles (the film had to switch cinematographers after the original director of photography Ryo Murakami died of malaria at age 33) it paints a powerful picture of working just to live.

We open on Cisco, played skillfully by Bishop Blay, as he taps rubber sap on several trees on a plantation in Liberia. Its docu-drama style is indistinguishable from the most fascinating documentary on the BBC, but afterwards it's distinctly fiction showcasing a remarkable economy in its restrained structure to deliver layers of conflict along with shreds of hope. Cisco's cousin is a New York taxi driver, something his peers, an impressive array of non-actors blending in with the professionals, admire but a prospective he treats with skepticism. Their union calls a strike, but the workers are no match for the pressures and ultimately find themselves having to cave in. In a bind, Cisco finds himself out of work and has to reluctantly leave his family and accept an invitation follow his cousin's footsteps.

The culture shock when the most famous skyline in the world unfolds is remarkable. We don't see Cisco on his flight, so we jump straight from Liberia to New York. The spectacle feels so trivial in light of day-to-day struggle as you see it through the eyes of those who really needs the hope that the American dream provides. The warmth of Murakami's lens in Liberia is harshly contrasted with the sterile chilliness of Owen Donovan's New York revealing America as a painful last resort. However, the film peaks at that moment. It unwisely has jumbled threads of narrative from then on, which may be are engaging on their own, unfortunately feel tacked on, as if it could be any assortment of half a dozen options. Cisco's character development heads in appealing directions as he gets meaner and bitter, while it reveals an intriguing and dangerous past.

Those ghosts are director Takeshi Fukunaga's main focus for its final stretch hinting at the lengths Cisco went to during the Liberian Civil War. Despite the irony that it would only be something that follows him 4,000 miles from home, it's something that should have been set up in the opening Liberia section to feel more connected. Temptations and financial traps of sex workers are a very interesting dilemma for Cisco after watching his loyalty to his family, but in the meanwhile the film misses a crucial gap I wanted to see. How did he get the taxi driver medallion that supposedly costs several hundred thousands? How does he know the streets of New York like the back of his hand? How does he cope with the competition of Uber? These aren't plot holes, these problems are perhaps too current, but they're struggles I wanted to see illustrated.

But Out Of My Hand isn't trying to be a modern statement. This is a timeless problem and a timeless opportunity. And that doesn't take away Fukunaga's controlled and efficient direction in the Liberian first half. It's a film about skill, and that feeds into all aspects of its production. Perhaps it's a film that would always suffer from feeling disjointed because of how different the two halves are on a narrative basis. With Cisco's initial reluctance, it's fascinating to look at a vocation in one of the USA's most populated cities being his best option for the survival of his family rather than the desired aspiration. The film makes it difficult to marry its themes of dark histories not being forgotten and the struggles of immigrants, but each ideas are exclusively poignant at the very least, and Out Of My Hand keeps you close to make you feel the sweat of the journey.


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