ARTS & ENTERTAINMENTMOVIES
Review

'Test' says little about gay life in the 1980s

MoviesReviewsEntertainmentHIV - AIDSDanceTriBeCa Film FestivalLos Angeles Film Festival
'Test,' about a man who frets about his HIV status, says little about gay life

Set in 1985 San Francisco as HIV blood tests first become available, "Test" revolves around an understudy at a ballet company. When Frankie (Scott Marlowe of the LEVYdance company in San Francisco, in his acting debut) isn't rehearsing in the studio, he lays about at home, saunters around wearing a Walkman, socializes, hooks up with strangers, visits clinics and frets over his unknown HIV status.

But the AIDS scare remains as much window dressing as do other period details such as rotary phones and cassette tapes. "Test" seems to be about dance above all, with choreographed montages filling the bulk of its running time.

Writer-director Chris Mason Johnson, who made his filmmaking debut in 2009 with "The New Twenty," once danced with the Frankfurt Ballet. He has little to say about gay life in the '80s and how AIDS affected gay men differently than it does today.

As such, "Test" is woefully inadequate and unnecessary when compared with "Parting Glances" (1986) and "Longtime Companion" (1989). It also offers fewer insights on remnants of the era than do contemporary-set films such as "Before I Forget" (2008) and the forthcoming "Love Is Strange," which I saw at the Tribeca Film Festival and which was scheduled to screen again at the Los Angeles Film Festival this month. The final prophecy of "Test," of AIDS-stipulated monogamy among gay men, elicits little more than a shrug.

-----------------

"Test"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood. Also on VOD.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
MoviesReviewsEntertainmentHIV - AIDSDanceTriBeCa Film FestivalLos Angeles Film Festival
  • 'Big Gay Love' struggles with big themes
    'Big Gay Love' struggles with big themes

    There’s a sweet, funny, universal story hiding in the corners of the discombobulated comedy “Big Gay Love.” Writer-director Ringo Le seems aware of his thematic intentions, but he’s fuzzy on how to execute them. The result is a thin, wanly structured film that, after...

  • 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night' has a definite bite
    'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night' has a definite bite

    A vampire is such a handy creature for filmmakers in search of a metaphor or two. Mortality is usually the first bite, and Ana Lily Amirpour's stunning first feature, "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," definitely takes a stab at that.

Comments
Loading