Monday, August 25, 2014

The Dance of 1985 (Movie Review: Test)

Once in a while, a movie just connects with me. I felt that connection again with "Test," a movie written and directed by Chris Mason Johnson. The film is set in 1985, the year that the HIV test came out. But I would not call this an AIDS movie, though I kind of look at it as a subtler, quieter cousin of "The Normal Heart." I look at this movie as a slice of someone's life that year, with a backdrop of the disease as it starts to creep into gay men's lives. It shows how sensibilities change, how sexual attitudes morphed from free and hedonistic to being cautious and safe-sex cognizant. And, it captures the backstage of a San Francisco Dance Company, how the disease affects an ensemble. Scott Marlowe plays Frankie, an understudy in a dance company. It briefly explores his comlicated, but loving, relationship with a co-dancer, Todd (Matthew Risch) The dance sequences are beautifully choreographed by Sidra Bell, and acts sort of like a Greek chorus for what is happening to these men's lives. The greatest thing about the movie is how authentically it captures the feel of 1985, from the Walkman to the music in the Walkman (It seems like I had the same cassettes on mine) to even the cut of the acid washed jeans that Marlowe is wearing. I feel transported to a very familiar place because essentially I was there, and any of these characters could be me. "Test" captures a time of innocence lost, not unlike mine during that time.

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