Inlaws & Outlaws

Director: Drew Emery

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Pacific Northwest focus of this documentary may explain the milquetoast sameness of most of the individuals interviewed, a similarity that is heightened by a directorial point of view that is in the main political even if never rhetorical.

The interviews are about falling in love & "what marriage means to me" & the purpose is to show by these examples that gay people deserve marriage rights. It's mostly talking-heads & only the intercut scenes of a fun little swing-quartet performing ironically appropriate songs lends visual liveliness.

As a "political debate movie" with one side of the debate pre-acknowledged as bigotted, it's a film that has already induced most critics to use the phrase "preaching to the choir" to describe it. But the documentarian with no professional distribution is getting the film seen in many churches, so it's possible that it will in fact be seen outside the choir.

The film has quite a strong Christian underpinning adding to the milquetoast nature of the interviewees. A few interesting black faces don't stop it from seeming very WASPy, a side-effect of the agenda to show that gay folks aren't different from ordinary straight churchgoing moral upright citizens, with "ordinary" the key image. There is absolutely no irony in the presentation of queers as "normal," but a kind of pride of emulation.

However, fact is, even ordinary people can have stories. I may personally prefer documentaries about crazy-ass weirdos, but if you listen long enough to "ordinary" faggots & dykes jibbering about their lives, just about everyone has a good story in them somewhere, & Drew Emery gets at several of them.

There's an old gent speaking of his lover of fifty years & of his life since his lover died, who at first looks like some kind of toad with his buggy eyes & swollen neck, but his life story is such a wondrous blend of beauty & tragedy that getting to know a bit about him revealed not only a personality of great warmth & goodness, but he is transformed by his own storytelling so that I began to perceive him as handsome with such an expressive face.

I enjoyed these peoples' stories more than not, & I appreciated the swing tunes well-sung by Felicia Loud to break up the inherent & inartistic tedium of talking heads. Even if like me you'd prefer something edgy & less mainstream-normal, I'd say this one has enough emotional reality to it to be worth tracking down. Especially if you're fairly mainstream church-going yourself, you really should get your own church group to show it, as whatever your stand about gay marriage, this film is a confirmation of (if nothing else) the rewards of conformity.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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