Out 1

Out 1 ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I was an only-child who always had a lot of trouble connecting with my peers. I had a lot of imaginary friends. This lead to me childhood obsession with secret clubs and secret societies, I made many of them. I would steal my parents' flashlights at night and sit up in bed with the other members of my society (my favorite stuffed animals) and draw our logo, our secret code, and talk about secret things. I used to find trees to climb where I would be hidden by leaves, and have it be my club house.

I think the idea of the secret society goes hand in hand with the idea of transcendence. I think many (most?) people crave a form of transcendence from the confines of their social environment. People throw parties where they get drunk out of their minds. People live in abject conditions to journey to the most beautiful sights in the world. People get addicted to drugs. People do things that aren't acceptable by greater society. They do things in secret.

Out 1 features an ensemble cast of varied personalities, all brought together by their desire to go beyond the mundane absolutely. Experimental theater troupes train themselves to shed the shackles of learned social behavior to engage in exercises that seem to transport them completely from their usual state of mind, and two petty crooks try to escape their cycle of repetition and poverty by investigating the existence of a secret society.

The actors have community, and they seek transcendence. Colin and Frederique are both just about alone in the world. They seek community, but not just any one, they seek a community that goes beyond the societal framework they operate in, because for whatever reason, they know they will never fit in. Therefore, they seek both community and transcendence because they have neither.

Frederique asks Warok about whether he is part of a secret society. In return he asks her "Supposing we had one, what would it do?" She says she doesn't know. What she's afraid to say is that she simply wants to feel like she belongs to something special. It doesn't matter what the society does, as long as it feels like a special community.

Secret societies throughout history have been associated with this concept of the special. Secret grassroots activist groups are special because they are a minority fighting against a tyrannical power. Men's clubs like Bohemian Grove are special because they bring together a minority of privileged individuals who must escape from the scrutiny of the people for their abhorrent actions. One type transcends the powers that be, the other transcends the moral code of their community.

Frederique and Colin are neither a freedom fighters nor war criminals, so why is transcendence important to them? It is not known what their past is, they might be running from a law due to a complex situation that isn't their fault. They might be queer and rejected from her family. Either way, their sense of place in the world has been severely damaged by past events, leading them to a volatile existence. At least for now she doesn't belong in normal society, so for them, to be accepted is to transcend.

This is why the theater troupes don't last, why the thirteen doesn't last. Emilie cares more about her partner. She no longer needs a special community when she has someone who loves her unconditionally. Beatrice leaves because she finds stability with a partner as well. Lili gains the opportunity to have creative control. All these characters find comfort in normal society. In this way the Thirteen dissolves, and those who need it most, Frederique and Colin, are left out in the cold.

Watching Out 1 reminded me of how far I've come since those days of the torchlight society with my stuffed animals, but also reminded me of the struggle I still have connecting to people in a way that feels genuine. Will I find a secret society? Will I find stability? Will I find community? Will find a way to go beyond? Will it be a mixture of both. One thing about every character in this movie is that they are unapologetically themselves. If I do that. I think I will find whatever it is is worth finding.