"Courage," declares the gay teenage protagonist in Mary Lou, "is sometimes nothing more than an outburst of great despair." Meir (Ido Rozenberg) plainly needs someone to tell him it gets better in Israeli director Eytan Fox's queer-centric musical fable, especially after a climactic high school graduation-night humiliation sends him fleeing for the bright lights of Tel Aviv. His goal is to find his mother Miriam (Maya Dagan), who left without a word on his 10th birthday to become a backup singer for Israeli pop star Svika Pick -- in the comforting fantasy Meir invented. The 2009 film makes its U.S. debut Saturday at the Castro Theatre.
Characters in a musical are allowed to burst into song anytime anywhere, of course, but a certain logic and justification is provided once Meir begins working, and then performing, in a drag club.
Although he searches for his mother, Meir (needless to say) finds himself instead. As with most fairy tales, from The Ugly Duckling to A Star is Born, the plot is melodramatic, moralistic and often predictable. Yet Mary Lou -- the name of Meir's drag persona after he moves to Tel Aviv -- entertainingly pushes the bounds with an unflagging parade of energetic production numbers of Pick's love songs.
Mary Lou plays at the Castro Theatre Saturday through Wednesday, Sept. 17-21. Admission is $7.50-$10.