Director Kirby Dick has in just a few years become the cinema's exposer-in-chief of institutional hypocrisy. In his 2005 Twist of Faith, he put a candid, personal face to the tragic phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic clergy. The film received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. Dick followed that up with This Film is Not Yet Rated, which revealed the secrecy and double standards employed by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Outrage, which is gradually being released in major US cities, is Dick's most ambitious and accomplished exposé yet. In it, the filmmaker uncovers the damage caused by closeted gay lawmakers and politicians. The self-protective, hypocritical behavior of such former and current leaders as Larry Craig, Jim McGreevey and Florida Governor Charlie Crist, among others, is laid bare through eyewitness accounts and personal testimonials.
McGreevey, to his credit, has seen the error of his ways while he was the closeted Governor of New Jersey. He and his ex-wife, Dina, are the film's most honest and compelling interview subjects. Other interviewees include playwright/activists Larry Kramer and Tony Kushner, out congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, out congressmen Barney Frank and Jim Kolbe, AIDS activist Rodger McFarlane (who just recently passed away) and commentators Andrew Sullivan and Michelangelo Signorile.
Dick and company rail effectively against their closeted targets' anti-GLBT protection and legislation records, though journalistic balance is sometimes lacking. This is most notable when the film reviews each politician's voting history on matters of importance to the GLBT community.
While some have a reprehensible 0% vote in favor of gay adoption, same-sex marriage, AIDS funding and/or the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, we're told a few have voted in favor of our community's concerns as much as 27% of the time. However, Dick fails to acknowledge those GLBT issues they supported. He runs the risk of demonizing all the politicians equally, when some may well deserve our disdain more than others.
This is a relatively small criticism, though, compared to the personal, cultural and national tragedies wrought by a handful of ambitious, seemingly self-loathing homosexual men hiding behind "beard" wives and religious zealotry. Outrage is a most appropriate title not only for the film, but for many viewers' reaction to it.
Click here to watch the trailer for Outrage.
UPDATE: Outrage is now available on DVD from Amazon.com.
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.