Editors' pick

Outrage

Outrage movie poster
MPAA rating: NR
Genre: Documentary
A hard look at closeted U.S. politicians who campaign against gay marriage.
Starring: Barney Frank, Becky Altringer, Tanner Barklow
Director: Kirby Dick
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Editorial Review

The news: This city is swarming with toe-tapping closet cases who champion anti-gay legislation in the light of day. Our source goes by the name of "Outrage," a crisp, efficient, sometimes petty but often infuriating documentary about alleged gay politicians who actively campaign and vote against gay rights.

"Outrage" aspires to expose harmful hypocrisy in the U.S. government by laying all the evidence on the table. During the film's brisk 90 minutes, a level-headed, fair-minded viewer might feel a range of emotion: contempt, skepticism, empathy, uncertainty, but never boredom.

Interviews with talking heads are mixed with news footage, buttressed with basic reporting and assembled to address one politician at a time. Through a series of corroborated anecdotes, the film proves, at least to itself, that a certain politician is gay and then follows each outing (or re-outing) with an itemization of the politician's "no" votes on gay rights. It is a methodical public shaming.

Most of the film's targets are recognizable figures. The long, sordid saga of former Idaho senator Larry Craig is the axis on which the movie spins, but "Outrage" comes down hardest on another prominent politician whose name we won't print here. Why? He has denied repeatedly that he is gay, and there have been no substantiated reports in mainstream media about any relationships. Director Kirby Dick has structured his movie around this politician, gathering compelling evidence and interviews to support his case and suggesting that this man's hypocrisy is all the more dangerous because he may be bound for a 2012 presidential run.

With "Outrage," Dick outs Capitol Hill as one giant glass closet that has perpetuated discrimination for too long. Some of his targets do not get a thoughtful, reported treatment and are therefore as good as slandered.

The film, however, is mostly without venom. It's sad and serious.

-- Dan Zak (May 8, 2009)

Contains sexual themes.