Film Review: Coming Out

In association with SQIFF

Alden Peters’ debut feature film Coming Out is a deeply personal documentary following the director’s road trip to tell his friends, family and eventually the whole world, that he is gay. Peters’ technical proficiency is evident. The film even-handedly explores what inspired the filmmaker’s decision to go on this journey (the suicides of a number of gay teenagers and the plethora of online ‘coming out story’ vlogs), the conversations with his friends and family and the later process of trying to figure out where, and beside whom, he feels he belongs.

The conversations themselves are rather meek. A few of his friends and family are visibly shocked and at first do not believe him, while the majority do not appear overly surprised by the revelation. None of them expresses anything other than love and understanding, despite Alden’s preconceptions. The disappointing thing is his lack of ability, or perhaps interest, to dig down into the psychology of these interactions, both from his perspective and from the perspective of his relations. It feels as though this is a missed opportunity to explore what people think of their own open-mindedness on matters which have only truly begun to be openly and honestly discussed.

The most interesting aspect of what is a fairly straightforward, unambitious film comes in the final act, in which Alden tries to place himself within the gay community. He is previously seen attending a Pride event but observes the participants only as an onlooker, an outsider. He does not feel connected to the group which is supposed to be a safe haven for him. Is this a fault of Alden’s, a fault of the community at large, or perhaps nothing more than an illustration of the multitude of varied attitudes that exist within such a broad spectrum of individuals? At the end of the film however, Alden is again filmed at a Pride event, this time wearing a vest with a plunging neckline and looking much more comfortable, as though he has found his place. The eventual message of Coming Out then, is that while it is difficult to reveal your true self to other people, it is perhaps even more difficult to truly come to terms with who you are in your own mind.

[Tim Abrams – @timabrams123]

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