Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning through Art: HIV/AIDS in Film--The Event

"Honey, what you know about AIDS can fit in your purse," Olympia Dukakis' character says in The Event. The words still express the sad reality for many of us.   

The Event was one of the first AIDS-related movies I reviewed for A&U--America's AIDS Magazine.  I found out that the movie was playing only for one week and only in L.A. and NYC (exclusively at Clearview's Chelsea Theaters.)  Of course, I rushed to see it.

I've always wondered why movies like The Event do not get a chance, while others do. Have we become so terribly complacent when it comes to a (still) deadly pandemic like HIV/AIDS? Or are we afraid to talk about it because we fear we'd come across too preachy, especially at a time when other issues seem to have taken priority...

I posted the review below. I believe the movie is still very much worth seeing.
Hope you enjoy the read.

As always, thanks for visiting,
Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness

The Event
A movie by Thom Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Alina Oswald

In The Event, Canadian director Thom Fitzgerald invites us to a lavish party celebrating life in the midst of death.  Through a series of flashbacks, the controversial movie tells the story of Chelsea's artist and AIDS patient, twenty-something Matt Shapiro (played by Don McKellar) while investigating the dark consequences of an assisted suicide.
The idea of passing away, from AIDS, with a bang is not new in movies, but what contrasts The Event from Philadelphia, for example, is that The Event's party is a suicide one.  It is a going away event where Matt Shapiro's family and friends find enough time for last embraces, dark humor jokes, and good-byes.
But Manhattan district attorney, Nick-Nicole-DeVivo (played by Parker Posey) sees this Event as the last in a string of suspicious deaths in New York gay community.  All victims are AIDS patients, found dead, with an overdose of drugs in their systems, all, patients of their AIDS councilor and Matt's lover (Brent Carver.) 
During Nick's investigation, family and friends reveal the surprising story of Matt's life, his struggle with the disease, and his death.   While trying to find out who's to blame for Matt's death, Nick struggles with her own past and personal beliefs regarding assisted suicide.
    The Event is a sad, touching, yet uplifting film, telling a present-day story about dignity in the face of loss and tragedy, about life's gift.  The superb performances of Don McKellar-the courageous, uncomplaining AIDS patient, Matt Shapiro-and Olympia Dukakis-his understanding, brave and loving mother, Lila-bring tears into viewers' eyes, especially those who've lost a loved one to a debilitating illness. 
The Event is also a brief lesson in AIDS and living with the disease.  Perhaps Lila Shapiro's words-"Honey, what you know about AIDS can fit in your purse"-express the sad reality for many of us. 
The Event is a memorable story, a reason to cherish and appreciate life.  The pace gives little time to breath.  No one leaves the theater room with dry eyes.