Longtime Companion follows the lives of a small circle of friends from the first mention of the disease in the New York Times in 1981. First referred to as "Gay-Related-Immune-Disorder," we watch the effect of the disease as it devastates the lives of our protagonists. Jumping between Manhattan and Fire Island, vignettes carry us from the it-couldn't-happen-to-me mentality of the early days of the disease to the invasive effect it has had on all of our lives, today. The title of the film comes from the New York Times' refusal to acknowledge homosexual relationships in their obituary section during this period. Instead, survivors were referred to as "Longtime Companions" of the deceased.Written by
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Howard and Paul live next door to Lisa in an apartment building. In the opening scenes, Lisa and Paul each come out of their respective apartments into the hallway at the same time, establishing her apartment on the left and the boys' apartment on the right. Later in the movie, after Paul and Howard have gone out to dinner, the same apartments are filmed from the opposite side (through the outside windows), but instead of being mirrored as they should be (with the boys' apartment on the left and Lisa's on the right), Lisa's is still on the left and Howard and Paul's are still on the right. See more »
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The title is the newspaper obituary euphemism for a gay lover, and yet another discreet but frustrating reminder of how mainstream heterosexual society avoids confronting the AIDS epidemic. In an effort perhaps to offset public ignorance, Norman René's film of the same name almost resembles an AIDS awareness primer, dramatizing the deadly progress of the disease through the gay community since the summer of 1981, when 'safe sex' merely meant anything goes, but don't get caught. Like other American Playhouse productions the film is simple, unpretentious, and no less rewarding for being so straightforward. René and writer Craig Lucas have wisely resisted the temptation to make a 'Love Story'-style terminal illness melodrama, concentrating instead on the bittersweet pain and bravery of awkward hospital visitations and quiet deathbed encounters. Only the forced optimism of the final daydream rings false, unavoidably since the epidemic itself (still) has yet to be resolved by anything resembling a cure. The balance of the film is simply too honest to support such sentimental wish-fulfillment fantasies.
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