OK, so the filmmaking of Love Free or Die is a little on the flat-footed side (it’s made just that much more so by the obtrusive music score), but it’s hard to deny that a film about Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, is both important and timely. Hitting Asheville just after the North Carolina vote on Ammendment One, it’s even more so. The film is at its best in its more relaxed moments involving Robinson’s personal life with his longtime partner Mark Andrew and the two (now-adult) daughters from his first marriage. Much of the rest of the film is of the simple talking-head variety, and little of the anti-gay side of the argument is revelatory. Most of these amount to little more than those TV ads we were bombarded with from Franklin Graham and (of all things) Leicester Carpet Sales—in other words, a few lines of scripture and that’s it. The film has something of a dramatic arc concerning a vote on whether to allow the consecration of gay bishops and the practice of blessing same-sex marriages in states where they’re legal. The film’s biggest drawback is that it sometimes lacks energy—which makes the outspoken presence of Bishop Barbara Harris even welcome, as she argues that marginalization of gays is connected to the church’s historic practices of marginalizing women. Her unabashed anger is one of the most bracing aspects of the film.
Love Free or Die is presented for one show only at Fine Arts Theatre on Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m.