Director John Erman’s beautifully acted, extremely moving 1985 pioneering AIDS drama starts when successful young attorney Michael Pierson (Aidan Quinn) tells his family both that he is gay and that he is ill.
Quinn gives a brave, outstanding performance. As the attorney’s parents, Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara once again show their class as truthful emotional actors, and Sylvia Sidney is also notable as the concerned, sympathetic grandma. Sidney won a 1986 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman’s sensitive, careful, caring script (and story by Sherman Yellen) won a 1986 Primetime Emmy, and it is remarkable that the writing almost entirely avoids clichés, sentimentality and plain wrong things to say. There were three other Emmys – for Outstanding Cinematography (Woody Omens), Outstanding Editing (Jerrold L Ludwig) and Outstanding Sound Mixing.
It is a very rare TV movie indeed like this that is so full of insights, passion and love. D W Moffett plays Quinn’s lover Peter Hilton and John Glover plays a brittle AIDS sufferer Victor DiMato, with Sydney Walsh, Bill Paxton and Terry O’Quinn also in the cast. It is now a poignant and still urgent reminder of the terrible time when an AIDS diagnosis was a death sentence.
Quinn recalls that the TV network censors said the two men could never kiss, they could not be seen together in bed, and that any physical contact between them had to be balanced by Michael’s contact with his parents.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4263
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