Reel Affirmations 2003
Tarik El Hob
Rating: (4 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!]
Sunday, 10/19/2003, 2:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Cecile Goldman Theater at the DCJCC
French with English subtitles
INTRIGUED BY a television report on the history male-male Islamic marriage in the Egyptian village of Siwa, sociology student Karim, an Algerian student in Paris, decides to make a documentary for his class about gay Muslim men. His girlfriend, Sihem, is apparently unaware that a person’s choices of subjects often tell you volumes about what that person really wants.
Director Remi Lange constructs The Road to Love as a faux documentary, using handheld video cameras and improvisational acting for an intimate look at gay Muslim men, some of whom are comfortable with their sexuality, others who are struggling, and how both Western and their traditional cultures press them into roles.
Overall, Lange’s strategy has mixed success as Karim moves deeper into his project and discoveries about his own sexuality. Karim himself is the most believable person in the film, whether in the lashing out at the people around him as he struggles with his feelings or in the happiness that shines in his eyes when he tapes himself dancing. But Farid, the openly gay man who has fallen in love with him, is often forced, stiff and a little off-putting, making you wish Karim would find a better candidate for his first male love.
Though not perfect, The Road to Love is an ambitious film about a too-often unseen subject that shouldn’t be missed.