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Longtime Companion (1990)

Cast: Bruce Davison, Bruce Davison, Campbell Scott, more...
Director: Norman Rene, Norman Rene
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: MGM
Genre: Drama, Independent, Gay & Lesbian, Features
Running Time: 100 min.
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: Spanish, French
    see additional details...

At the time of Longtime Companion's release in 1990, the devastating disease of AIDS was seen as a mysterious and deadly scourge, replete with rumors, lies, and panic. As the first narrative film to examine the AIDS epidemic, screenwriter Craig Lucas and director Norman René place the disease in an historical context, dramatizing the impact of the disease through time in a series of vignettes involving seven gay men. AIDS first made its presence felt surreptitiously, as an article in The New York Times reported on a rare cancer attacking gay men called Karposi's syndrome. Then the Village Voice began a series of in-depth articles concerning a "gay plague" which later became known as AIDS. The film follows the AIDS crisis through the lives of the seven main characters so that they are only aware of AIDS in the historical framework of each episode. The characters include former gay couple Willy (Campbell Scott) and John (Dermot Mulroney), first seen partying at a Fire Island club, who don't pay much attention to the mysterious article in The New York Times but become intimately effected by the disease. There is also Sean (Mark Lamos), a soap opera writer whose mind is slowly deteriorating because of the disease, and his supportive friend David (Bruce Davidson). ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide

You might also enjoy:
Parting Glances
One of the first US films to integrate the AIDS crisis into the storyline, this lovely film is also notable for an early Steve Buscemi appearance

Prelude to a Kiss
In his last film, director Rene went "straight" (as it were) in this contemporary love fable based on Craig Lucas' play

GreenCine Member Reviews

good, not great by alexjb January 7, 2006 - 7:48 AM PST
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
so i guess that this was the first gay men AIDS movie. as such, it's definitely significant, and bears watching if only to understand how scary a time that must have been to experience.

the characters are pretty good examples of gay men, some closeted, some carefree, a couple of them a bit older than the rest. there's even a token 'fag hag' for balance. and the filmmakers attempt to show each reacting a bit differently to the 'gay plague' that's ravaging their community. they succeed, if not brilliantly.

unfortunately, seven is kind of a lot of folks to keep track of, so there's a certain lack of character development, especially for the first young man to die, which is a shame because he's one of the more likable ones. also, one of the main characters is played by campbell scott (from the spanish prisoner, roger dodger) and he really has trouble emoting, amking hinm hard to sympathize with. finally, the film sometimes jumps a year or two at a time with poor transitions (usually marked by campbell scott's hair going through every bad 80s hairstyle). it's trying to straddle the line between looking at the impact on the small and large-scales simultaneously.

overall, i found silverlake life to be more compelling in terms of personalizing the disease (small-scale view), but Longtime Companion is a better reflection of how it hit the NY gay community at the time.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.58)
231 Votes
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