WISH ME AWAY
Director: Bobbie Birleffi, Beverly Kopf
After struggling with coming to terms about being gay for decades, country music star Chely Wright did the unthinkable in that community: she came out of the closet, and in epic fashion, releasing a book about her life and her most personal CD yet, and appearing on myriad talk shows and magazine covers. The world of country music isn't known for being the most tolerant of the gay lifestyle, so Wright was understandably reluctant and terrified to take this giant step. Wish Me Away chronicles the months leading up to her public outing and the struggles Wright experiences, mostly with herself.
Wish Me Away was an interesting documentary that, while not necessarily thought-provoking or overly complicated, sheds light on a really important issue. Country music tends to make my ears bleed and frankly, though I feel very strongly about gay rights, I'd never even heard of Chely Wright before this film. Wright grants amazing access to her life, even providing the filmmakers with a video diary she had created, and the results aren't always pretty. She is clearly unsure of her decision and suffered incredible depression during filming. Having grown up in the bible belt of Kansas, as a devout Christian herself, she was afraid of what her family and friends would say, but mostly, she was terrified of the bible loving, mostly Republican people that generally tend to buy country music records and who essentially control what the radio stations play. Looking at what happened to the Dixie Chicks when the lead singer criticized George W. Bush at an overseas concert, Wright was understandably scared to lose her fan base.
Wright is an extremely candid and likable person who seems really down to earth and genuinely wants to help people in the gay community, particularly children struggling with their sexuality the way she had for years. That is why, when she finally comes out publicly at the end of the film, it is great to see her so exhilarated that she doesn't just come out, she kicks the door down and says, "Here I am!" Since filming ended, she has become a leading gay advocate but appears to have been frozen out by the country music community, which is a shame since that was her passion, but I think she's developed a new fan base and will do just fine, especially now that she's fine with herself.
MFF Ballot Rating: 3 out of 5