Parting Glances (1986)

Parting Glances (1986)

“I want to leave because it’s gotten too settled — [too] predictable.”

On the night before his longtime lover (John Bolger) is due to depart for a job in Africa, Michael (Richard Ganoung) visits his HIV-positive friend Nick (Steve Buscemi) and must confront Bolger’s true motivation for leaving.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Death and Dying
  • Get Togethers and Reunions
  • Homosexuality
  • New York City

Parting Glances — the only film writer/director Bill Sherwood made before his death from AIDS in 1990 — is beloved by many as one of the most authentic representations of gay life in 1980s New York. Unfortunately, however, it never manages to transcend its low-budget indie roots: the supporting characters (including an overweight “troll” and a fag hag) are stereotypical, the acting is (mostly) amateurish, and the script seems forced (particularly near the end). It’s primarily worth watching to see Steve Buscemi in his first major screen role — he already shows evidence of his unique cinematic presence.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Steve Buscemi as Nick
  • A heartfelt — if not entirely successful — portrait of friendship and loyalty in the early days of AIDS

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a look simply for historical purposes.


One thought on “Parting Glances (1986)

  1. A must.

    Surprisingly, I wouldn’t have thought so – but, seeing it again, I find it more powerful than I remembered. I’m not sure if I should qualify by saying it’s more for gay ffs or not. After all, somewhat like the more modern film ‘All Over The Guy’, ‘PG’ speaks directly to gay guys (unlike films like ‘Cruising’, ‘Prick Up Your Ears’, etc., in which something else is going on for a cross-over audience). Out-and-out (if you will) gay films are a more-or-less recent phenomenon, considering the length of cinema history. A considerable number of them (regardless of the GLBT target audience) are disposable. ‘Parting Glances’ is not. It’s deceptively simple, with terrifically natural dialogue and performances (an especially standout one by Buscemi), and also wonderfully captures the New York feel (esp. the lengthy party sequence).

    It’s also memorable for being an AIDS-related film that, so early in the terror surrounding the disease, exhibits courage, dignity and love. There’s no hysteria here; just dealing.

    The ending is an especially nice, gentle touch.

    Much to savor in the script:

    Buscemi: Let’s play cards.
    Ganoung: I gotta go have dinner with Robert’s asshole boss.
    Buscemi: Just one hand.
    Ganoung: One, then two, and I’ll be here three hours and Robert’ll be pissed.
    Buscemi: I’ll get the deck.

    Andre Morgan: Isn’t this [party] supposed to be just family? I don’t recognize half of these people here.
    Ganoung: Recent finds from [Joan’s] archaeological digs in Tribeca.

    Buscemi: You know the difference between straight guys and gay guys?
    Ganoung: I forget.
    Buscemi: There isn’t any. That is the scary and seldom-understood fact: straight guys are jerks, gay guys are jerks.

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