Wade on Birmingham

Shout 2010: The vow factor


Movie review: ‘An Ordinary Couple’

By Chance Shirley

Review at a glance: “An Ordinary Couple” builds a case for same-sex marriage in the guise of a documentary about a long-term relationship.

An Ordinary Couple, Orin Kennedy, Bernardo Puccio

Bernardo Puccio, of Birmingham, left, and Orin Kennedy
star in the documentary, “An Ordinary Couple.”

Orin Kennedy and Birmingham native Bernardo Puccio made headlines when they attended their own “funeral.” The couple had started work on their memorial monument at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in 2003. After completing it in 2006, they couldn’t wait to unveil it to their friends and family.

Birmingham ShoutLike many other Hollywood Forever clients, Kennedy and Puccio commissioned a short “Life Story Documentary,” to be put together for screening at their … well, let’s just call it a memorial service. Jay Gianukos, a filmmaker on the Hollywood Forever staff, became so interested in the pair while shooting that “Life Story” that he convinced them to be the subjects of a feature-length documentary.

“An Ordinary Couple” screens Sept. 26 at Birmingham Shout.

That documentary takes a while to get going. And the title is appropriate, as Kennedy and Puccio don’t seem like obvious documentary subjects.

Each moved to Hollywood as a young man, and each found success but not in a wild “rags-to-riches-this-should-be-a-movie” way. Puccio works in interior design, Kennedy in television.

The two have been romantically involved for more than 30 years, a very good run but not completely unusual.

About halfway through the movie, Kennedy says the memorial service, a big hit with attendees, was a wonderful experience. Puccio adds that the service was probably the closest thing to a wedding he would ever get.

Cut to a news story from 2008 about the legalization of gay marriage in California, later nullified by Proposition 8. Only then did I realize that “An Ordinary Couple” is a movie about … the gay marriage debate.

I would call that a “soft sell.”

It’s a smart approach to the topic. After learning about these totally ordinary guys for 40 minutes, the gay marriage debate seems awfully silly. Of course these men should have the right to get married — it’s not like they’re rushing into anything, what with their 30-plus years of “courting.”

I’m concerned that “An Ordinary Couple” is a case of preaching to the choir by having its Birmingham premiere at Shout.

Don’t get me wrong: The movie is well shot and edited, and Kennedy and Puccio seem like smart, friendly fellows. But a gay-friendly crowd isn’t going to learn much from this movie, with a bit of discussion about gay rights issues from the 1960s and ’70s and the AIDS epidemic of the ’80s, but mostly just everyday couple stuff.

Perhaps opponents of same-sex marriage would find it more enlightening, even if on the surface it appears to be about these wacky dudes who attend their own funeral, a real-life “Get Low.”

The reasoned tone and charming subjects of “An Ordinary Couple” could quietly change some minds, even in a time where debate over social issues degenerates into shrill shouting matches.

chance shirleyChance Shirley, co-founder of Birmingham-based Crewless Productions, will participate as a panelist at the “Changing Forms of Distribution” Sidetalk at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. He served as producer and writer on “Monster Hunt with James and Kevin,” premiering at Sidewalk on Sept. 25.

His sci-fi horror/comedy film, “Interplanetary,” should finally arrive on DVD in early 2011 from Camp Motion Pictures.

“An Ordinary Couple” will screen at 5 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Hill Arts Center.

Video: Orin Kennedy and Bernardo Puccio disucss their monument
with a reporter in a scene from “An Ordinary Couple.”

Video: “An Ordinary Couple” trailer


• • •

Action! Complete Shout festival coverage.

Leave a Yip

Subscribe without commenting