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Jack Griffin Mazeika
An intense relationship drama that takes the form of a mystery, The Event centers around a series of unexplained deaths that occur among the gay community in New York's fashionable Chelsea district. Nick, a district attorney investigating the most recent case, a suspicious apparent suicide, and her interviews with friends and family of the deceased trigger extensive and intricately interwoven flashbacks that reveal surprising facts about the man's life and death. Written by
Emotionally draining and compelling, all at the same time.
Oh wow. The normal words used to describe movies just don't apply here. In most regards, this defies all conventional logic used in the movies and is by no means, a typical movie. I caught this one at its premier at the Sundance Film Festival and was not very well prepared for what I was about to see.
The Event refers to the assisted suicide of a young man Matt (Don McKellar). Matt has AIDS and has just about run the course of conventional treatments. There are about to be no cocktails left and nothing to look forward to but a long and painful death. Matt has been living with AIDS for seven years now and doesn't want to go out that way. If he's got to go out, he's going out on his own terms: his way and at his time. So he enlists the help of several friends, rounding up as many potent prescription drugs as they can get their hands on. Then a party is thrown to celebrate his departure from earth, and to have one last fling before dying. And then it's time to get it over with and Matt is assisted with his suicide.
Now all of that is all that Nick (Parker Posey) has to work with. She works as a lawyer for the state of New York and has received notice that Matt did not die of natural causes. It's up to her to find out who helped Matt kill himself, and the more she learns about the event, the more it impacts her (as well as the viewer).
And what we are left with is a movie with a cause. This is all about the AIDS epidemic and how it affects everyone, one person at a time. Now I personally haven't known anyone with AIDS, or anyone who was helped in committing suicide, but I found myself emotionally worn out when the credits started rolling. I however, was the exception to the rule, and continually heard one sniffling sound after another (from the rest of the audience) and knew that this was a movie with some emotional kick to it. This is not a feel good movie; this is not a comedy that you can simply walk away from. This one is going to linger in the back (and probably even the front) of your mind for quite some time. It has some exceptionally powerful themes and images, and is a credit to the art of movie directing. Thom Fitzgerald is one of the undiscovered directors of his day, and he proves that you don't need unlimited budget or special effects to make a really powerful movie. He simply shows us life in all its painful glory and doesn't try to sugar coat it for anybody. He takes a growing social problem and makes sure we don't forget just how much it is affecting the world, and he makes it look easy.
Part of the reason he was so successful was because of the talented acting core he had to work with. Don McKellar doesn't usually come to mind when you think of outstanding actors, but he sure delivered a fine performance here. Olympia Dukakis plays Lila, Matt's mother, and if she isn't wonderful to watch, then nobody ever has been. She plays the mother that isn't concerned about the negative aspects of her son or his life, she just loves her kid. She shows the true beauty of motherhood and unconditional love in a way that few women have ever done on film. And finally there is the lovely and erotic Sarah Polley. I don't care what she's in, I just have a hard time taking my eyes off her. She seems to command my attention wherever she is on screen, and she always rewards the attention when it is given.
I had a chance to speak with her after the show was over, and I was really impressed with her. She doesn't seem to be stuck on herself and is a rather humble little thing. As good as she can be, she could have already made a household name for herself, and she hasn't let that get in her way. She sticks to the independent movies because she can make the movies with a purpose. She can do what she enjoys and feel good about it at the end of the day, because she's not in it solely for the money. As an actress, she has the ability to impact the lives of millions and she seems to take that responsibility seriously. She doesn't do the fluff that makes you rich, she only does what she believes in. And speaking of which, just about everyone involved in the movie said the only reason they took it was because they had someone close to them go through the same thing. Olympia Dukakis said that she had been to two such events and was forever changed by them. And that my friends, is the power of independent movies. They aren't made for the money, but to share the ideas contained in them. And this one has some pretty potent ideas. The other thing that really impressed me was how the director handled the situation with 9/11. The movie was filmed shortly thereafter and he included a nice little scene showing how it affected the characters in the movie. It was just a quick little scene, but I was surprised at how much it meant to me and how much I was thinking about it after the movie had already ended.
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