A passionately committed young dancer is forced to re-examine his career and life when faced with death, finding hope through an older man who becomes his lover, mentor and companion. Written by
(at around 1h 30 mins) When the chaps who call them "lousy poofters" go past, when Tonio says 'I am angry', the two chaps turn the corner onto another path by a litter bin, but in the next shot they are still on the same path, with no bin in sight. See more »
AIDS movies formed the core of queer cinema ten or twenty years ago, and there were many memorable ones (The Living End, Parting Glances, World and Time Enough...). This British movie came out near the end of that 90s period, just about the time new drug cocktails were beginning to change the life course of HIV sufferers. The movie is set just before that time, and its gay characters are too familiar with the dying of their community. As one of them here says when challenged by a hospital nurse during a friend's last hours, "We've done this before." I first read about this movie in a glowing NY Times review when it received its very limited American release a decade ago, and wished I could see it. Now I have, thanks to Netflix. Though the AIDS epidemic is always in the background, the center of the movie is the unlikely but all the more believable relationship between a handsome, sexy young dancer played by Jason Flemyng, and an overweight, alcoholic therapist played by Antony Sher. The actors and the screenwriter take care to help us understand how these two mismatched souls become mates, and in doing so, elicit sympathy for these two deeply flawed individuals. This may have been a low budget indie flick, but it features the virtuoso acting that we so often associate with British thespians, not only from Flemyng and Sher, but in a lovely turn by Dorothy Tutin as a batty old dance company manager who is sinking into dementia even as the younger members of her company are dying off. This all makes the movie sound pretty grim, but in fact it's lively and funny. The movie's chief asset, aside from its performances, is its snappy and sophisticated dialogue by Martin Sherman (who wrote Bent). This is an adult love story, though no one ever says "I love you." The two lovers are both painfully imperfect humans, like all of us, who cannot manage their interactions with anything like the smoothness that psychobabble books (or Hollywood movies) suggest they should. Even the therapist who helps other folks manage their traumas cannot manage his own with grace. The highlights of the movie are the sharply written "duets" between the two protagonists as they navigate their very rocky relationship. My chief reservation about the movie is a plot dive into some sappy melodrama as the dancer's climactic farewell performance approaches, but even so, the movie earns its sentimental wash more than most with the careful, sophisticated development of its characters. I forgave alright, I even succumbed to the last act sentimentality. And finally, I can't resist a brief reference to Mr. Flemyng's attractiveness. I first noticed him oozing sex appeal in Stealing Beauty, and then playing the bully villain in Hollow Reed. Alas, in recent years, he seldom seems to turn up on American screens doing anything much worth watching. Pity. He's plenty worth watching in Alive and Kicking.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?