Beyond the Walls

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Sep 9, 2013
Beyond the Walls

Belgian filmmaker David Lambert is both a writer and a director, and he wears both hats well: His film "Beyond the Walls" ("Hors les murs" is the original title in French) starts as a somewhat mopey drama, morphs into a sweetly comic-tinged romance, and then matures into a study about how growing up means learning to make choices.

When musician Paulo (Matila Malliarakis) and bartender / bass player Ilir (Guillaume Gouix) meet, Paulo is like a shaggy Ethan Hawke: Boyish and slight. He's still "figuring it out," which means he's living with a girlfriend but exploring with guys. When the final breakup leaves Paulo on the street, a reluctant Ilir is the one he turns to; "Take care of me," he pleads, like the child he is.

A year later, the child has become a man -- less Ethan Hawke than Val Kilmer, with newly smooth hair and a slightly pompous self-possession. The events in between range from tender affection to panicked internalized homophobia, and from rough sexual play to emotional peaks and valleys that leave both men transfigured.

Far from being either another chaste gay romance or porn romp, "Beyond the Walls" is one of those rare and welcome films that stays grounded and realistic while also spinning a captivating spell. Neither character is a hero or a saint; both are heartbreakingly human, and that's the key. Cinephiles, whether gay or straight, will gladly add this title to their collections.

There are no special features on this disc, aside from a handful of theatrical trailers for this and a few other films. The wonderful thing is this home release doesn't need any extras: The movie in and of itself is a complete viewing experience.

"Beyond the Walls"
Strand Releasing

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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