If Wadjda‘s status as Saudi Arabia’s first feature film (to say nothing of having been directed by a woman in a country where she isn’t allowed to drive) is its claim to fame, then Out Loud is almost certainly most notable for being Lebanon’s first self-proclaimed gay film.
That the homosexual relationship it details at times feels incidental to the plot is somewhat remarkable, as director Samer Daboul treats it with a matter-of-factness that most American filmmakers have yet to replicate. Like a lot of well-meaning movies whose positive messages overwhelm the plot, however, Out Loud is too clumsily put together to give its subject the weight it needs to feel both grounded and moving.
The narrative centers around a group of forward-thinking friends whose progressive ideals put them at odds with those of society at large, with most of what follows alternating between mawkishness (winsome guitar-strumming atop a rock overlooking town) and melodrama (quite possibly the most protracted, over-the-top death scene you’ll ever see). Here and elsewhere Out Loud tries its damnedest to be poignant but finds only saccharinity.
In attempting to craft memorable characters, Daboul has neglected to make them feel like real people; he spends too much time mimicking what makes the movies larger than life and too little bringing his genuinely distinct vantage point to life.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2013