Out Loud: Film Review

This first gay-themed drama from Lebanon mostly is interesting for its sociological repercussions.

This Lebanese drama from writer-director Samer Daboul daringly takes on gay themes.

The backstory behind the making of Out Loud is more interesting than the film itself. The filming of this Lebanese gay-themed film was opposed vigorously by members of the conservative community in which it was shot, with threats and acts of violence a constant occurrence. The film was completed only because of the intervention of military authorities, and post-production had to be done in the United States. The production travails are detailed in a companion documentary by the film’s writer-director, Samer Daboul.

It would be heartening to report that the results were worth going through all of that. But although this first gay film from the country certainly has sociological importance, as drama it’s strictly middling. It concerns the unusual friendship among six young people, including Jason (Rudy Moarbes), still traumatized by the loss of both of his parents in a car bombing; Louis (Jad Hadid), devastated over his recent breakup with his girlfriend; the guitar-strumming Elvis  (Michel Sarkiss), who works for his drug-dealing father; and Rami (Ali Rhayem), whose family has recently found out that he’s gay.

Other characters figuring prominently in the story are Rami’s lover, Ziad (Jean Kobrosly), who’s learned firsthand the physical dangers of being outed, and Nathalie (Eliane Kerdy), a beautiful woman who stirs up complicated feelings among the group.

The film is fairly typical in its depiction of young people coping with myriad personal and societal issues, although they necessarily take on a greater significance considering the setting. But writer-director Daboul fails to establish either a compelling narrative or consistent tone, with the film awkwardly lurching from comedic to melodramatic to even musical elements. With the exception of the vivacious Nathalie, played in engagingly vibrant fashion by Kerdy, the characters are too schematically rendered to make us  care much about them.

The filmmaker certainly deserves credit for having the courage to take on his controversial themes. But for all its daring, Out Loud is ultimately too muted to make much of an impact.

Production: Phoenix Eye Pictures

Cast: Rudy Moarbes, Ali Rhayem, Jad Hadid, Michel Sarkiss, Eliane Kerdy, Jean Kobrosly

Director-screenwriter: Samer Daboul

Executive producers: Samer Daboul, Cedric Troadec

Director of photography: Vicken Jilikian

Production designer: Gabriella El-Murr

Editor: Fares Khalil

Music: Christopher Brady

No rating, 102 minutes