Review by Chris Geidner
Rating: (2 out of 5)
Sunday, 10/16/2011, 2:45 PM
Feature presentation, $12 at Navy Memorial Heritage Center
Arabic and English with English subtitles
OUT LOUD HAS the feel, script and performances of a run-of-the-mill ”gay film” from the 1990s. Generally, that would be a very bad thing in 2011. The saving grace of Out Loud is that it is an important film that shows by its presentation alone that the world continues to move toward inclusion of LGBT lives and, however slowly, understanding of LGBT issues.
Samer Daboul’s film – set and filmed in Lebanon – is tough to get through at parts. Many of the characters seem, at times, to be playing simplistic parts that push over into caricature. Some scenes present unclear motives or objectives for those characters, or present questions that are never resolved. And, sometimes, the acting is downright bad.
But the overarching theme – that loyalty born of familial love, whether by blood or by choice, is stronger than hate and intolerance – comes through loud and clear.
The first commercial Lebanese feature-length film to explore homosexuality openly, the relationship between Rami (Ali Rhayem) and Ziad (Jean Kobrously) is as touching as any of the delightful gay relationships present in those ’90s gay films. But, the ever-present danger that they face because of their relationship’s still-taboo nature in Lebanon somehow makes the few tender moments that the viewer sees between them all the more intimate – and moving.
Ziad, who was in the military, first appears in the movie after his relationship with Rami already has been the topic of much discussion among the other characters – several of Rami’s straight friends (who each has his own unique character attribute) and Nathalie, a woman who one of the straight men meets online and invites to join them. In addition to being the love interest for all three straight men, she also provides an outlet for Rami to discuss his relationship with someone other than his straight male friends.
As the six celebrate a birthday, there is a moment when, beneath the table, Ziad and Rami hold hands in a private moment. It is a simple moment, easily taken for granted in most 2011 movies. But, here, that moment is a real spark of change in the world that minimizes the importance of the filmmaking flaws present in the movie.