‘Inlaws & Outlaws’ looks at marriage

  • By Robert Horton, Herald Movie Critic
  • Friday, June 15, 2007 9:42am
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Marriage is the subject of “Inlaws &Outlaws,” a locally made documentary that includes gay people in the conversation. The movie tells the stories of a few straight marriages, some gay unions, and a couple of mixed-up gay-straight marriages (most of these are people from the Puget Sound area).

The film premiered at the 2005 Seattle International Film Festival, but has been re-edited since that time, and gets its first regular run this week. Its unorthodox distribution history has also included screenings at churches in the Midwest.

It’s easy to see how the film could become a word-of-mouth success. Its collection of stories is accessible and consistently absorbing, and in a couple of cases, devastating.

Easily the most involving narratives come from the oldest interviewees in the movie. There’s one pair of sprightly elderly women, Pete-e Peterson and Jane Lighty, both Greatest Generation members who never quite met Mr. Right.

Their separate descriptions of the moment they met – when they both experienced the uncanny sensation of having just found the person they were destined to meet – is one of the most charming arguments for the undeniability of true love (whatever its forms) I think I’ve ever heard.

Even more intense is the testimony of Chuck Lazenby, who talks about having lived for 50 years with his lifelong partner, another man. He conveys a mix of disbelief and resignation about the clandestine ways he and his partner had to keep themselves secret for all those decades.

The end of Lazenby’s tale is so touching it probably shouldn’t be given away here, but suffice it to say that his story alone is the kind of thing that could change, or at least soften, a lot of people’s minds about homosexuality and marriage.

Director Drew Emery doesn’t beat the drum on behalf of gay marriage, if that is indeed his goal; he lets the stories unreel, cutting back and forth between the various testimonies. Every now and then a nightclub chanteuse appears, singing love songs that comment on the vagaries of romance.

Simply allowing people to speak of their experiences, and then letting those experiences echo with the voices of others, is a powerful documentary tool. Here, it makes the most human kind of picture.

Adrian &Gina Noel are included in “Inlaws &Outlaws.”

As are Heather Andersen and Leslie Christian

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