4.7/10
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9 user 9 critic

The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me (2000)

When the seed of West Side Story's "Somewhere" is planted into the soul of a gay child, the quest of the film begins. Nine inter-connected scenes interpret this landmark theatrical event, ... See full summary »

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When the seed of West Side Story's "Somewhere" is planted into the soul of a gay child, the quest of the film begins. Nine inter-connected scenes interpret this landmark theatrical event, while charting a molten course through the depths and shallows of the urban gay male experience. From the late-night club crawl to the buff-bunny gyms, from the threat of anti-gay violence to the place where condemnation, compromises and closets are a thing of the past, the film exposes the sexual, spiritual and political yearnings at the heart of gay America. Written by Anonymous

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29 April 2000 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
view/rent only if you appreciate a self-indulgent, self-absorbed screed
14 September 2003 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

This filmed version of the one-man monologue has been updated somewhat for the start of the 21st century (with hilarious, but strangely preternatural references to Ben Affleck and Matt Damon--wasn't this filmed well before "Good Will Hunting"?), and the ending has been updated from 1999 to 2017 with a rather amusing and possibly prescient reference to a future US President.

As a result, we end up with a period piece embodying the ACT UP anger of the mid-80's/early 90's mixed with anachronistic attempts to update the play (admittedly in scenes portraying a future reality), along with timeless set pieces about gyms and bars, which still characterize much of urban gay life today.

As an encapsulation of one man's awakening in the mid-80's to urban gay culture and the simultaneous threat of AIDS, and the mandated, if diffuse and [IMHO often misdirected], anger that one had to express at the disease and the apparent lack of research for its prevention, treatment, and a cure, I found the original would have sufficed without any additions. Not that I would have enjoyed it better; it would simply have been more organic a work, regardless of its flaws.

Still, I have to ask "What planet was this guy from to have to see 'The Normal Heart' in NYC in 1985 in order to suddenly wake up about AIDS?" Gad, the musical version of "La Cage aux Folles" opened in pre-Broadway tryouts in Boston in 1983, with Boston's newly formed AIDS Action Committee as the recipient of an associated fundraiser. The syndrome (under any number of names) was infamous from the very day the column about the mysterious "gay cancer" appeared on the front page of July 1981's New York Times. Would the play have received less attention or accolades if the name of screenwriter/novelist/activist Larry Kramer hadn't appeared in the title?

I found the play's frequent sentimentality and almost suffocating self-absorption of the narrator incredibly distasteful. Every one of the stories of his friends or acquaintances dying--this is supposed to be the emotional highlight of the work--are filtered through an almost stupefying egoism: the details of their lives and deaths aren't enough for us without their first being filtered through the prism of "me-me-me" and how they impact, inconvenience or anger the narrator.

I suppose that one can't reliably equate the author of a (semi-) autobiographical monologue with the character of the "author" behind the proscenium, but that's a risk a monologist takes.


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