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‘Firebird’ Review: A Heartfelt But Heavy-Handed Tale of Hidden Gay Love in the Soviet Air Force

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Guy Lodge Film CriticAt a crucial point in “Firebird,” two perfectly chiseled servicemen steal away from the Soviet Air Force base where they’re stationed for a skinny dip in the Baltic Sea.

Behind craggy rocks and away from prying eyes, they kiss, before one gives the other a charged underwater handjob; as they jointly climax, director Peeter Rebane cuts to an image of two fighter jets blazing overhead, the lovers’ clenched moans drowned in a roaring sonic boom.

Subtlety is in short supply in “Firebird,” a swooning gay romance that firmly supplants “Top Gun” as the queerest film ever set in the air force; it may even top Tony Scott’s closeted kitschfest for most phallic military imagery per frame.But if such isolated moments of hot-and-bothered vulgarity suggest a winking exercise in heightened horniness, “Firebird’s” story of forbidden love in an oppressive authoritarian regime is otherwise played, for want of a better word, very straight indeed.

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