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Coming Out Review

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Philipp is a teacher who fears he may be gay, but is loathe to act on his attraction to men for fear of social condemnation. He meets and woos a female colleague, but all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy by a night of passion with another man...

★★★★★

While Hollywood seems to have found its own safe route to making films about gays through sympathy vote movies such as Longtime Companion, this release from what was still East Germany when it was made makes no bones about tackling the subject of homosexuality head-on.

Set against the backdrop of pre-unification East Berlin, Coming Out tells the story of Philipp Klahrmann, a high school teacher torn between his instinctual attraction to men and the conditioned society norm of heterosexuality. In an effort to suppress his gay leanings Philipp becomes involved with Tanja, a fellow teacher at his high school. Just as the two are settling down to draw up a five year plan of a very personal nature, however, Philipp goes out drinking one night and chances upon a gay bar. Here he meets the striking adolescent Matthias, with whom he unleashes his alter-libido.

With scenes of queer-bashings on the metro forming a dusturbing background, Philipp is not surprisingly fearful of the repercussions that may ensue if his dangerous liaison were to become public. He thus avoids Matthias and attempts to settle back into the routine of heterosexual life, which naturally leads to problems when Philipp, accompanied by his now wife Tanja, bumps into his male lover at the opera.

Occasionally naive and obviously somewhat dated, Coming Out is still a fascinating insight into a seemingly thriving East Berlin gay scene and illuminates one of the few post-Wall situations not done to death by a scavenging media.

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