Something to Live for: The Alison Gertz Story (TV Movie 1992) Poster

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8/10
A telling of fate and a courageous young woman, daughter, sister, lover and HIV AIDS activist.
Cinema_Fan24 November 2009
This true-life story is based not only on the short life of Ms. Alison (Ali) Gertz (1966 - 1992) but also on the birth and its aftermath of ignorance concerning the then unknown disease AIDS. Contracting HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) while only sixteen years of age, it was not until her early twenties that the AIDS virus (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) took hold.

While concentrating, here, on the fears and the unknowing of this disease, we see Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986)), as an, in mind and spirit, healthy activist and forerunner of the dangers and possibilities of what may be lurking just around the corner, for anyone, from any class and social background.

Tom McLoughlin follows the slow deterioration of test after test, result after result with an atmosphere of dread, but in a positive light as possible and a determination to let the viewer down slowly, very slowly, as the final diagnoses is realised. By this time, as the end of act one is, too, realised, the light, at the end of the tunnel, is also slowly turned out; we are now entering a new phase in the life of an AIDS sufferer. Fatal Love was released some five months before Ms. Gertz's passing, and around the late 'eighties and early 'nineties her mother formed The Alison Gertz Foundation and "Concerned Parents for AIDS Research". Even in the early 'nineties this disease was slowly becoming less of a stigma, less of a taboo. Particularly with mainstream and Indie films themed on or around AIDS: Philadelphia (1993), And the Band Played On (1993), All About My Mother (1999) and 3 Needles etc, and with activists' such as Ms. Gertz, and films as Fatal Love, this is the result of the legacy that carries on after her.

Beautifully scripted and portrayed to the point beyond empathy, as seen with both parents Carol (Lee Grant) and Jerry Gertz (Martin Landau), and the agonising reality of a young candle blowing out so early. Lee Grant and Martin Landau's performance as these two souls in search of answers, in search of results and in search of help is highly commendable and the frustrations brought on by the sheer pressure of the mammoth task before them is one seen with pity, understanding and respect.

This production is of the highest quality and never does it feel dishonourable and judgmental in its approach to either victim or of those living beyond its consequence. Its narrative is delivered with such humble regards to such an extent that it raises the bar and highlights the fact that this disease is open to, once more, any social background. This friendly face of awareness here is also blameless on the side of the tracks where AIDS is most predictable and the "self inflicted lifestyles" of the drug addicts', homosexuals, for example, are too portrayed as human, as victim and as sufferers' of fate. It's almost a calming effect, with its light visual tones, its upper middle-class environment, but don't be fooled into thinking all is well behind the white-collar established elite. Its steady, but awakening narrative, is the friendly face of awareness that feels sanitised but also important and impossible to want to ignore.

It's Ms. Gertz's activities to, certainly not to preach, not to condemn, but to assist in the efforts' of a safe and healthy, prolonged, life. Told in flashback with the use of darkened and whitened fade-outs with a thumping heartbeat across the soundtrack and a emotionally stressed scenario that makes looking back at those times more of a retrospective of what may now seem like a Stone Age mentality that was the nineteen eighties. Tom McLoughlin's use of Molly Ringwald, essentially a child of the eighties herself as seen through the films of John Hughes (1950 - 2009); this was an exceptional and innovative move.

Molly Ringwald has finally grown-up and it is here we see her dependence of the love of her family and the, sadly inevitable, crumbling friendships, that come and go, building walls and breaking hearts. The "midnight bathroom scene" is immensely disturbing to witness as it is horrifying to try to understand her plight and anguish. Charles Bornstein's editing here and, again, Mr. McLoughlin's beautiful visual pacing and its light but heavy score brings home the reality harsher than one would appreciate. Then it is no small wonder too, that with this film comes an Edit Nomination Award for Best Edited Television Special for both Charles Bornstein and Sidney Wolinsky. These two editors have spliced a priceless work together, with the combined efforts of director, cast, writer et al. Considering its themes and contents here it has been done in a sensitive manner as it has in its delivery of themes of mistrust, paranoia, suicide and wisdom, death and hope.
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10/10
A truly great film about a devastating subject
richardclarke135 June 2005
Ever since I can remember I have had a massive crush on Molly Ringwald who in this film takes on the best role of her career as Alison Gertz a truly inspirational woman who died of aids in 1992. Molly and a great supporting cast show the true devastation that this disease causes on a person with (at the time of infection) no previous sexual experience, no drug taking past and no history of blood transfusion. The best line of the film is when Alison stands up and says "look at me, i am the face of aids" showing that despite some peoples misconceptions people with aids look no different to you and me.

The film makes good use of its lead characters and makes what could have easily been a typically preachy TV-movie into a viewing experience that (whilst sometimes unpleasant) is educating and informative whilst not being boring.

Molly received (quite rightly) an emmy award for her acting in this film and it is easy to see why as when you view this film you feel as if you are living the experience with her and a good performer should make you feel this way during any acting performance. This tele-film has affected me in a way that no other tele-film has done before or since. It has a stellar cast (Lee Grant and Martin Landau as the parents) its doesn't preach and doesn't pretend to be something that it isn't. If this had been a big Hollywood blockbuster then the story would not have been so well told and would have been padded out. This film should be shown in schools to educate young people of the dangers of aids.

What makes the film really magnificent is how it challenges people's beliefs about aids and presents a true story in a well written non-preachy and non-patronising way. Well acted and a true masterpiece thats very rare in TV-movie land.

If you would like to know more about Alison Gertz and pledge your support for aids victims then please visit www.loveheals.org thanks!

For the benifit of those not in the know this movie is called Fatal Love here in the u.k and is available on Odyssey video
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9/10
Wonderful
Marie-136 July 1999
I actually taped this movie 8 years ago and watched it for the first time since I had originally seen it. I loved the movie and thought Molly did a great job doing Alison. Lee and Martin did a good job too. I think that the best line in the whole film is when Alison says that most people think that AIDS is some kind of punishment for either taking drugs and/or sleeping around. That to me could not be a better line. I would not say this is the best movie regarding AIDS but one of the first that really try to deal with it early on......
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7/10
Worth watching and remembering!
andy-14833 July 2007
This is a well-made film about a brave young lady who, like so many others, battled against the most dangerous disease this planet has probably ever known. Alison Gertz, her friends and family tried to educate young people and still do (although Alison is no longer here). Molly Ringwald (obviously unknown in Slovenia judging by the bottom comment) gives a solid performance whilst Landau and Grant do what's required.

It shows how people can struggle to come to terms with disease and how rationality is thrown out of the window and fear takes over when talking to a person who has contracted HIV/AIDS.

It's a TV movie but one that is worth a look
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10/10
Top notch acting
gritfrombray-130 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film whilst recovering at home from a motorcycle accident and was engrossed in it from almost minute one. The story revolves around a girl who gets aids from a one night stand and ends up in hospital with an infection that won't heal. The story unrolls and Ringwald puts on the best performance in her career in my opinion. The story of how her family, friends and even boyfriend come to terms with her affliction is genuinely touching and a little heart wrenching at times. This is a film that should be shown to school kids ranging from 15 and up. An educational movie with lots of warnings to those who choose to be careless. The conclusion of this is warm and touching and a true tribute to the late Miss Gertz who's memory and bravery will live forever through this excellent film.
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5/10
HEH, NOT A PHILADELPHIA,...
Matija Trost21 February 2002
... but still a nice TV-movie about AIDS.

Although unknown, leading actress (Molly Ringwald) did a fine job, what can also be said for the guy who played Ben from Israel in hospital. Emotional viewers, beware:)) Movie runs smoothly (good directing) and keeps you in front of the TV all time.

And after you saw it, you still think about it. And I guess, that this was the purpose, so that's why I give this movie a high rate of

5 out of 10 (well, since is a TV movie, this is a HIGH rate)
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5/10
Just an uneven film about AIDS
wildpeace1019 August 2007
Since having seem Molly Ringwald in MALICIOUS, i've been trying to catch up with her previous work and even though this has been made for TV in 1992,it is easily available on DVD,a comment which surely can't be said for a lot of made for TV movies.

While the film has been described as non jugemental, the viewer is certainly in his right to judge the character.We're not talking about a church going virgin who got married and slept with her husband who gave her aids but about a girl who slept around with 5 guys and got unlucky so no matter what she says in the film,some people will still come to the conclusion that she deserved it.

I wouldn't call this film astounding.I found it highly uneven.After the first 30 minutes,it was almost like the film could have ended there,just like an afternoon after school special.

The movie,however has some interesting elements and may be worth a look if you have 90 minutes to kill. When the film works,we feel the pain and the nightmare that a person struck with aids feels. i also liked what is shown to be happening in her love life,with the current boyfriend and with another potential boyfriend meeting in a bar.

But after everything is said,this only remains another uneven TV movie.
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10/10
Alison Gertz-The Role Model to All The AIDS Infectors.
hollywood-2527 March 2005
"Alison Gertz-The Role Model to All The AIDS Infectors." is the first and only sentence I speak out by the light of nature after I feelingly watched this great movie. Alison is a great character. She enjoyed everything like other girls in 20s. Having boyfriends and attended various public meetings or parties, she is a active, recognized-charming and little-unbridled lady. On the eve of her marriage, something shocking happened to her. What a shocking thing that can make her marriage waterloo ? The disease-AIDS !! Our character Alison was diagnosed a AIDS infector. Everything changed and she now just can stay in bed for endless time waiting the nurses helping her doing everything. What Alison undergo in the future of combating with AIDS and whether she become stronger are the common remained thoughts that will in watcher's mind. Leading actress Molly did a great job. She showed me how Alison-a infant AIDS Infector-grow with conquering and finally became a mature leader as the mentally successful conquer of AIDS which is a disease that changed her life. I very much appreciate the character Alison and Molly's great performance of this special and hard role. In the movie, the role Alison's Father, Mother and her best friend also very important. Their reflections to Alison's disease and the very moment that realizing she is a AIDS infector somewhat reflect the director's view about how people treat their family members, friends or best friends when they realized they are AIDS infectors. So, this movie is like a mirror where you can see what different people do in face of a AIDS infector who maybe their friend, one of the family members or loved one. Alison have three boy friends at different life periods. However, only one of them, a Israeli boy who give Alison a book called LOVE MEDICINE and HOPE, helped Alison by emotional cares. Other two all leave her away with disloyal excuses which made Alison deeply in sad for a long time. Directed by Mcloughlin, this is a movie with a perfect ending like Lost in Translation (2001). Different from Lost in Translation which is sad love story, the story line of Something to live for : The Alison Gertz Story is dealing with one person's experience towards something that is sad. The Alison Gertz Story is filmed and shown on TV in 1992, 13 years later the issue AIDS is still a serious case throughout the world. In America, in Europe, in Asia and in Africa specially, this monster (AIDS) eats up a great amount of normal people's normal life. Each AIDS Awareness Day, we remember them in heart. As South Africa's worldwide show 46664 held by former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, AIDS has been awared in the most stricken area-Africa. And, to us, REwatch Something to live for : The Alison Gertz Story (1992) TV is a great education that can affect on our ideology deeply towards the AIDS or potentially AIDS infectors. For the forever combat with AIDS, For the people around us, For AIDS infectors, For everyone, it worth rewatching this 1992-made TV movie as a great education !
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3/10
Painful.
Caterina Maria21 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I'm going to skip the rant about how hard it was being a WASP in the nineties. If you get it, you get it; if you don't, you never will.

The writing is terrible. Oh, my God, the writing is anvilicious. "Don't have sex! But if you do, please misuse condoms!" Because no, I'm sorry, you don't double-bag it; condoms are not grocery sacks. They are more likely to break if you do that. The real Ms. Gertz was direly mistaken in this respect, as her People interview shows.

"Positive thinking makes it better! Don't give up!" I swear if I'd been down a long, painful road like Nancy the cancer patient and some pipsqueak rich kid tried to tell me to hang on, I'd slap her stupid. Sometimes the pain is too great and death is legitimately a release.

What this film does address, what it could not have escaped addressing, was the hit-or-miss nature of early AIDS treatment. Pretty much every drug available had hideous side effects; Gertz's reaction to AZT in 1989 would've hit directly after ddI was made available by the FDA to patients with just that problem -- just patients with just that problem.

The film also does a decent job of portraying AIDS as a horror show, not a mild inconvenience, thus rendering it unfashionable for its target audience. No, you certainly don't want to wind up in the ICU with your mother microwaving towels just to keep you warm. Mr. and Mrs. Gertz redeem the film somewhat with their boundless love for Alison. He walks her purse dog when she's sick; she... well, she microwaved freaking sweated-through towels in an ICU too scared to bother with proper care.

All the same, thank goodness we no longer classify our AIDS stories according who's more deserving of the disease (!) -- no transmission method is better than another, given the result. It doesn't matter how AIDS happens. If you have it, then you live with it and will die with it. Who are any of us to judge how you got it?
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10/10
Out of this World
Patrick Bracken24 September 2006
I have just watched the film for the first time and I have been blown away. As a Gay man I have a huge love for the fight against HIV and AIDS. This film shows exactly what it is like even today with all the teachings about how HIV & AIDS are contracted. You will still find people afraid to shake the hands, use same toilet, drink from the same cup and even giving a hug because they are afraid they will contract the virus. If anyone reading this knows how I can get in touch with Alison Gertz please let me know. If anyone wants information on the HIV and AIDS virus please get in touch. An remember HIV and AIDS is not the gay persons disease which this film has been made to portray as well as the life of Alison.
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