“AIDS is not a gay disease — it hurts everybody.”
A young gay man (David Schachter) in New York City volunteers as a hospice “buddy” for a man (Geoff Edholm) dying of AIDS.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Death and Dying
Gay filmmaker Arthur J. Bressan died of an AIDS-related illness in 1987, two years after this quietly incendiary indie film was released. Bressan, eager to alert Americans to the increasingly dire spread of AIDS across the gay community and beyond, apparently wrote the film in a week and filmed it in two — but, despite its obvious low-budget and (at times) overly didactic script, it remains a surprisingly sincere and heartfelt two-character drama. In essence, it shows us Schachter’s growing political consciousness about homosexuality and AIDS, along with Edholm’s gradual acceptance of his impending death; perhaps predictably, hints of a (mostly one-sided) infatuation between the two emerges as well. But Bressan’s primarily goal with his film was to infuriate audiences about the American government’s apathy over the AIDS crisis — as Edholm’s character notes, there wasn’t even a single AIDS clinic in New York City at the time. To that end, Bressan’s decision to begin and end the movie by scrolling the names of people dying each day from AIDS in America:
… is a particularly potent cinematic device, one that packs a punch almost as powerful as the rest of the film.
Note: Bressan’s Abuse (1983) — about a filmmaker initiating an affair with an abused gay teen — is also listed in Peary’s book, and is another noteworthy (albeit highly controversial) film to seek out.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A touching portrait of friendship and caring in the face of death
Yes, as the first American feature film about the AIDS pandemic. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.