Outrage (2009)

"Weak"

Outrage (2009) Review


The documentary Outrage is toplined by a written statement that suggests that there is a conspiracy to keep gay men in government in the closet: A conspiracy that the media, the public and, naturally, the government itself have a hand in. Is it true? I don't think so, but even if I did, I certainly wouldn't cite Outrage, which is directed by Kirby Dick, to back my opinion.

Mr. Dick has been making documentaries since the 1980s, many of which are very good and successfully argued. His last film, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, was a long-overdue assault on the MPAA, an association bereft of logic, shrouded in mystery, and grossly old-fashioned. Biased as it was, Rated was urgent and fascinating because it dealt bluntly with what films we are allowed to see, how we view them, and why the group which makes these decisions is cloaked so impenetrably.

Outrage is similarly urgent but its focus is far more public. It leads off with embattled Senator Larry Craig's infamous interrogation tapes following his alleged propositioning of a police officer in an airport bathroom, and initially, it seems to have a steady trajectory. Making a case for Craig's closeted sexuality, however, would seem to be small potatoes for Mr. Dick, as he also goes after Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Fox News anchor Shepard Smith. Of the menagerie of gay-rights advocates he provides, only Barney Frank, the openly-gay Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has anything relatively interesting to say.

Among the countless other interviewees here is James McGreevey, the former New Jersey Governor who resigned after nearly three years of service in conjunction with coming out about his homosexuality. McGreevey's story is the heart of what Dick is getting at. Closeted his entire life and carrying on an affair with the man he appointed homeland security advisor, the Democratic Governor was met with slander, a bloodthirsty constituency, and a judgmental media when he came out, not to mention the disintegration of his marriage and a lengthy divorce proceeding. We see McGreevey a few times, especially near the end, and it was the only time I felt like the film was actually saying something substantial about the dangers inherent in being an open, powerful homosexual in America.

Sadly, the rest of Dick's film is comprised primarily of insinuation, hearsay, and conjecture. Coyly mentioning a rogue's gallery of celebs, politicos and even a few historical figures, Dick ends up taking on the worse attributes of the people he is, quite openly, judging. Rumor becomes fact and emotion becomes proof in Outrage and for whatever argument is made for coming out of the closet and into a brighter day, the film bellows "You better!" The current state of gay rights and the social attitude towards homosexuals is deplorable, but discussing and debating the situation would require a patience that Mr. Dick lacks. A year after Gus Van Sant's powerful Milk and 25 years after The Times of Harvey Milk, the struggle continues, and one hopes that there will be films that continue to generate discussion and honest-to-God clarity on the subject. Outrage isn't one of them.

A narrow stance?



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Amy Ziering Kofman

Also starring:

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