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There is no national memorial to the Aids fallen, writer Tom Crewe pointed out recently in the London Review of Books. No, but there is a wave of films being made to remember the dead. After 120 Beats per Minute, the French movie about Aids activists, here’s a small-scale family drama of real gentleness and emotional complexity about a young man returning to Texas to tell his Christian family that he is gay and living with Aids. It’s desperately moving, with a few tissues-at-the-ready scenes, but wrapped too in a soft blanket of sadness.
The film is shot on grainy black and white as if to show what a different world it was in 1985, as Aids tore through the gay community. Cory Michael Smith is Adrian, home for what he believes will be his last Christmas. He’s buried six friends in 12 months and has been fired from his advertising job – he assumes because they’ve found out about his illness. At the airport Adrian’s mechanic dad (Michael Chiklis) arrives in a pickup truck with a Reagan bumper sticker. Adrian seems to have confronted the enormity of death in his 20s. He whispers tenderly to the family’s ageing dog: “If you go first, wait for me.” But how can he tell his parents?
The richness of 1985 comes from the way the movie enters the lives of all the family. Adrian’s dad might be the kind of guy who judges a man by his arm-wrestling ability, but director Yen Tan also wants you to see how rejected he feels by his son: “You took off as fast as you could.”
It’s a beautifully acted film. In the dark days of the epidemic it would surely have been impossible to make a drama so balanced, so compassionately attuned to everyone’s feelings.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: 1985 review – desperately moving Aids-related drama | Film