Thursday, June 10, 2010

No Blame

(Daniele J. Suissa, 1988)
"Not a movie about AIDS", the back cover protests. Uh huh. Maybe what they meant is, not a movie that does the subject of AIDS any justice, even at this relatively pioneering date. Helen Shaver plays a glamorous but down-to-earth fashion editor in her third trimester who is diagnosed as HIV-positive by Jan Rubes's icky bourgeois doctor. Right after the diagnosis there's a beautifully handled elevator scene, and this largely holds its own as high-class soap opera - Stephen Macht's surprisingly irredeemable love interest compensates somewhat for the (arrrgh) cute kid, and things don't really go off the rails until Linda Smith's pivotal, 'inspirational' counsellor shows up. In a hectoring scene that is obviously meant as a rallying cry, Smith is obliged to enact a series of face-palming nonsequiturs that only climax with a 'never say die' message that equates the disease unequivocally with death, and lonely death at that. Nowhere do we see anything of the community of support that Smith's rhetoric momentarily evokes, least of all when her own infection leaves her friendless and alone in the hospital. What's more, in the entire film we are granted one single sidelong glance at a guy who might possibly be gay. Copping out where it counts, the film spoils its own ending, a series of surprising anti-utopian gestures that might have seemed genuinely brave in a different context.

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