Directed by Bill Sherwood | USA | 1986 | 90 min

Parting Glances
Thursday, June 18 |
Tivoli Cinemas in Westport


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‘Parting Glances’: a slice of gay life from the 1980s battlefield by Joe Meyers

Bill Sherwood’s 1986 release “Parting Glances” which was the first American film to deal with the impact of AIDS on the gay community — Sherwood tackled the subject four years before the higher profile independent film “Longtime Companion” and seven years before the first major Hollywood release “Philadelphia.”

“Parting Glances” is set inside the Manhattan gay world in 1984-1985 — when the film was shot — so we get to see the terrible anxiety and the sudden lifestyle changes in the city before today’s long-term treatment regimens for HIV had been fully developed.

And yet, Bill Sherwood did not craft a heavy-handed movie, but a mix of drama and social comedy involving gay and straight friends who are weathering the crisis as best they can.

“Parting Glances” focuses on two men (played by John Bolger and Richard Ganoung) who have lived together for several years but are about to be separated by a job that will take one of them to Africa for many months.

Steve Buscemi (above, in his first major screen role) plays their friend, a popular rock musician who is in the first stages of AIDS. It is through this character and his relationship with the couple at the center of the film that we get a full treatment of the ramifications of the disease on one of the most vibrant and culturally significant minorities in Manhattan.

Sherwood keeps things surprisingly light as the story takes us to a raucous and very funny going away party thrown by a female artist pal (well played by Kathy Kinney several years before her gig on the Drew Carey situation comedy). AIDS is the uninvited guest at the party and in other scenes showing the very funny and very intelligent circle of people surrounding the three main characters.

“Parting Glances” is about good people finding a way through a terrible period. Tragically, the young writer-director Bill Sherwood did not live to make a second film — AIDS claimed him in 1990 at the age of 37.

Excepted from Joe's View with Joe Meyers


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