Review: Wish Me Away
Last weekend here in Dublin saw the 20th Gaze Film Festival take place. It was a bank holiday weekend and the beautiful Light House cinema was packed to the rafters with LGBTs and their friends, the atmosphere was, as always, wonderful. I saw three great movies this time around, I always make sure to keep that weekend free and go to a few, if there’s one thing I love it’s a queer film. One of my choices this year was Wish Me Away, a documentary telling the story of the coming out of country music star Chely Wright. After the usual waiting for people to take their seats (why do people arrive at 8.40 for an 8.30 start?) we all cheered the last late arrival as she gingerly sat down and the film opened.
I must admit to being a Wright fan and so brought a pack of tissues with me for the movie, I cry at commercials so I knew I’d need a full pack. The film, beautifully directed by Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf, goes through the months prior to Chely’s coming out and lets us glimpse the entire process, but it is her personal testimony that makes your throat go dry and your chin quiver. Lets face it, to one degree or another we’ve all been there. Wright doesn’t hold back and that’s what makes the movie so powerful. Plus, I think I may want to start a fan club for her sister and as for her Dad – not a dry eye in the house!
Chely gave the film makers permission to follow her on her journey for three full years in order to make the movie. The film includes their footage and interviews beautifully woven with personal video diaries. All of this makes Wish Me Away another documentary that I really feel everyone should see. However, as powerful as I found it as a member of our community, I think it’s a film straight people should see, especially those with LGBT family members and loved ones. Getting across how a person can paint themselves into a corner with crippling internalised homophobia is not easy and yet Birleffi and Kopf pull it off with aplomb. They weave her music into the interviews and imagery perfectly and lets face it, everyone loves a happy ending.
Earlier in the summer I wrote a piece on LGBT documentaries you should see, I will be going back to add this one to my list for sure. Beautifully made and honest to a fault, a great and moving film that hits the nail on the head.