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Urs Peter Halter
Gregory invites seven friends to spend the summer at his large, secluded 19th-century home in upstate New York. The seven are: Bobby, Gregory's "significant other," who is blind but who loves to explore the home's garden using his sense of touch; Art and Perry, two "yuppies" who drive a Volvo and who celebrate their 14th anniversary together that summer; John, a dour expatriate Briton who loathes his twin brother James; Ramon, John's "companion," who is physically attracted to Bobby and immediately tries to seduce the blind man; James, a cheerful soul who is in the advanced stages of AIDS; and Buzz, a fan of traditional Broadway musicals who is dealing with his own HIV-positive status.Written by
Dennis Lewis <email@example.com>
It's amazing the fate the great play by Terrence McNally suffered on its way to the movies. The fact that it's basically the same team that produced this moving theater piece at New York's Manhattan Theater Club and later transferred to Broadway with basically the same cast, and with the same director, Joe Mantello, doesn't give the film viewer any idea of what "Love, Valor, Compassion" was so effective on the theater in comparison what one watches this version on the screen.
First, and foremost, the replacement of Nathan Lane, the originator of the role of Buzz was the first mistake. In fact, Jason Alexander, a good actor otherwise, throws away the balance of the film as he portrays Buzz. Mr. Alexander is out of his element in the movie. He seems to be acting in a different film, rather on this one.
The rest of the brilliant cast is repeating the roles they originated on the play.
"Love, Valor, Compassion" deals with a lot of serious topics in a matter of fact way. AIDS is at the center of the story as this group is affected deeply in one way, or another, by the plague that is killing most of these men gathered at a summer house. There is also a subtext in the movie about relationships, friendship, and loyalty.
John Glover playing the twin brothers, John, and James, gives one of his best performances in this picture. Mr. Glover is an actor who has a long background in both theater and films and he is a welcome addition to anything he decides to grace with his presence.
Stephen Spinella and John Benjamin Hickey, are Perry and Arthur, a gay couple that has managed to stay together fourteen years, a record for this type of life where relationships tend not to last at all. Stephen Bogardus and Justin Kirk, are Gregory and Bobby, the host of the house and his sweet blind lover. Randy Becker plays Ramon, who appears to be a hustler and has been brought as a guest and ends up betraying his companion and the host.
Finally, the fact the film doesn't work rests with the direction of Joe Mantello, an excellent theater director for casting the wrong man in a key part in the movie and perhaps his unfamiliarity working in films.
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