Last night, I saw Out at the Wedding, one of the films shown as part of this year’s ImageOut film festival. It was a hilarious comedy, filled with many one-liners and thinly veiled innuendos (though that may well be a generous classification on my part).
The movie takes you along as Alex, a young woman from the South now living in New York city, spins a complicated web of lies that eventually ensnares her and all her loved ones hopelessly. She tells her fianc?, Dana, that her family is dead in order to avoid introducing him to them out of fear that they’ll reject him because he’s black. Then when her best friend from childhood, a gay man named Jonathan, accidentally starts a rumor that Alex is a lesbian during her sister’s wedding reception, Alex picks up the ruse and continues it in order to calm her sister, who is accusing her and Jonathan of starting the rumor simply to ruin the wedding. From there, each new lie is created to cover up a previous lie. The resulting web of deception eventually becomes too unwieldy and begins to unravel. However, as this is a comedy rather than a tragedy, no relationships are permanently ruined, except for the Jeannie’s (the sister) marriage, as she comes out as a lesbian and becomes the girlfriend of Risa, Alex’s “girlfriend-for-hire.”
It’s important to note that Alex is not the only deceiver in this movie. Jonathan, who now also lives in NYC, also plays several deceptive tricks on his boyfriend, Kenny, throughout the movie in order to get Kenny to eat less and become more active so he’ll shed some extra weight. (Given that Kenny is a mere thirty pounds overweight and looks fantastic to this viewer, I could go on a separate discussion concerning ludicrous standards of beauty. But this review is long enough as is.) Jonathan also helps Alex to maintain many of her own lies as well. Indeed, these two schemers-in-arms seem to be immersed so much in their lives of deception that one wonders i their entire friendship is based on the bonds of deceiving everyone around them.
Another interesting theme is that Alex often sees the need for her lies to be beyond her control. This is best exemplified by the fact that the first two lies (the death of her family and her lesbianism) originated as mere misunderstandings, a fact she takes solace in while ignoring the fact that she didn’t stop either misunderstanding when she first became aware of them, thereby perpetuating them and turning them into lies. But ignoring that fact allows her to avoid taking responsibility for the lies, something she is intent on doing until she no longer can.
I think that part of what makes this movie so funny and enjoyable is that most of us have seen these themes play out in our own lives at one time or another, so we can identify with the situations played out on the screen. And by portraying them in a comedic light, this movie frees us from the discomfort of that realization and enables us to laugh about it all. And hopefully, while laughing, we internalize the lesson and strive to live the simpler life offered by being more honest.