Love! Valour! Compassion! Reviews
OK, I'll admit I was quite worried about this film. It's a lovely Tony Award-winning gay play put in the hands of Hollywood, known for butchering good theatrical works. The entire original cast of the stage play are in the film, except for Nathan Lane, whose role is played by George from Seinfeld. And the film is directed by the same director of the stage version! Eeeek!! (Remember when multi-Tony-Award-winning Broadway director Harold Prince tried his hand at film? It was a disastrously hideous version of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Rent it when you're in the mood to see what musicals must be like in Hell.)
Thankfully, my worries were unfounded, and the film is great. The play is about three weekends-in-the-life of eight gay men. They meet at an upstate New York summer home on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day in the same year. The film is a slow and pensive exploration of their relationships - often feeling like a gay The Big Chill. The homeowners are an aging choreographer, and his beautiful blind other half. Their guests are a couple who have been together fourteen years through thick and thin, twin brothers from England, one an angry, cynical piano player, and the other a benevolently sweet soul who has AIDS. The piano player brings his new boyfriend, a young dancer, whose sexually charged presence is a source of contemplation and conflict among the couples. Finally, there is Alexander's role, a flamboyant, HIV-positive, showtune queen.
The work has been beautifully translated to the screen thanks to a leaner script (trimmed by the playwright himself, Terrence McNally), a director who handles the material with sensitivity and surprising cinematic craft, and a wonderfully multi-faceted performance on the part of Alexander. It is refreshing to see him shed his inherent sliminess, and successfully pull off both camp and drama. The rest of the acting is just as great, thanks to the good casting, and the camaraderie that the men have developed from working together on the stage.
There are only a few nit-picky things that I could find wrong: the twins are never seen in the same shot together. A "Patty Duke" shot or two could have helped us forget that they are both played by the same actor. Some of the scene changes are clumsy, and many of the story's theatricalities seem a little odd on film, in spite of their successful execution. Still, the film recreates the atmosphere of the play, and even enhances it by showing us more of the house itself and its surrounding locales. L!V!C! is the rare happy marriage of theater and film. Do not miss it. QUEER QUOTIENT: A chick flick this ain't. There isn't a female anywhere to be found, so lesbians will probably not feel any need to attend. But for the men, there is male frontal nudity galore. God bless this movie!
This film tackles the issues on friendship, sexual relationships, genuine love, betrayal, AIDS--a touch different from the other gay films whose central contention is discrimination.
The film is a showcase of good friendship challenged by betrayal and forgiveness. This was shown in Bob's betrayal of Gregory in an affair with Ramon. Despite of it, there was forgiveness from Gregory's heart. Genuine love was also seen between Arthur and Perry whose relationship stood the test of time challenged by their differing views toward life. Later in the film, Buzz also found love for ill-fated James. Put to test with James' AIDS, Buzz didn't give him up?pushing him toward greater love.
The film reveals to us that love, valour, and compassion fix the damage and overcome all challenges in life.