Human Rights Watch Festival 2018: Our Review of ‘On My Way Out’

Human Rights Watch Festival 2018: Our Review of ‘On My Way Out’

Roman (Popi) and Ruth (Nani) Blank are your quintessential lovable straight talking couple. They call ‘ridiculous’ when the off-screen voices of the directors tell them about divorce rates in America. ‘Work it out,’ Roman exclaims, and Ruth agrees. It will take something huge for the couple to renege on their candour. The duo survived the Holocaust, and a secret can’t be as heavy as that. The directors have a difficult time coaxing that secret out of Ruth. It might be, after all what destroys the nonagenarians’ 65-year marriage. This fest’s screening of Brandon and Skyler Gross’ On My Way Out comes with a LGBTQ+ panel. This secret isn’t a real spoiler, then. Roman is also a man who loves men. Everyone in the family, including the directors who are the couples’ grandsons, knows this. However, it’s saying the secret out loud that counts. It changes how the family sees them.

The directors do a lot to analyze their grandparents’ marriage. Aside from the couple, they also interview the family’s second generation. One of them discusses how Roman made Ruth dependent on him. Blame, however, is too strong of a word. The family understands what it’s like to be both gay and Jewish under the Third Reich. The documentary, then, helps refute cynicism about this decade’s LGBTQ+ and coming out stories. It shows how people who aren’t from contemporary North America still pick up traditional survival instincts. The only thing the rest of the family can do now is to ensure the couple’s happiness. The movie thus follows the family helping Roman integrate into the LGBTQ+ community. That help also includes the couple undergoing therapy sessions and discuss what they feel. The movie shows this moments through honest, close long takes, packing an impactful punch in such a short film.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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