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USA, 1996 (MIFF 1997, International)

Director: Joe Mantello

A moving and frequently hilarious adaptation of Terrence McNally's Tony Award-winning Broadway play, Love! Valour! Compassion! traces the interwoven lives of eight gay men over a summer in upstate New York.

Every year Gregory, a successful choreogra­pher, and his blind lover Bobby, entertain their closest friends at their country home. Amongst the regulars is the exceptionally bitter John Jeckyll, whose complicated personality is revealed only through his piano playing and nasty retorts to even the most polite enquiries. Curiously enough, his identical twin brother, James, is John's polar opposite, a warm and tender man in the final stages of AIDS.

The vibrant, disparate personalities make for comic friction. Steadfast couple Arthur and Perry bicker constantly but are inseperable. Buzz - a campy turn by Seinfeld's Jason Alexander - is hilarious, effusive and unhealthily obsessed with the golden age of the stage musical.

This summer proves different to the rural idyll the group are used to. The inclusion of dashing and charismatic young dancer Ramon inflames passions and tempers. Troubling questions of personal and creative mortality darken the festive air, and draw Buzz and James together. Cross-currents of betrayal, disappointment and desire, both expressed and repressed, disrupt the easy camaraderie of the household. Although fate will eventually take these men in very different directions, it will be a summer they will never forget.

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