Get out your handkerchiefs. “Go Toward the Light” (tonight at 9 on CBS Channels 2 and 8) is a relentlessly effective tear-jerker.
Its focal point is an 8-year-old hemophiliac (Joshua Harris) who contracts AIDS. While the movie takes note of discrimination against AIDS patients, it’s not an AIDS movie. Instead, as the title indicates, it’s about the process of dying, particularly as it affects the parents of a dying child.
The parents here are played by Linda Hamilton and Richard Thomas, who couldn’t be better. We’re with these characters every step of the way.
Their situation, awful though it may be, could be worse. They have two other sons and a new one on the way. They have the carefully laid-out comforts of their Mormon faith. They have two strong and sensible parents of their own (Piper Laurie and Ned Beatty) nearby.
What they don’t have is any idea of how they’re going to pay the bills. The husband is a self-employed contractor, the wife works in the home. The movie doesn’t mention the word insurance, nor does it specify how much the boy’s treatment will cost, but it does demonstrate how much anxiety the husband feels on the subject.
Still, the family appears to be well ensconced in the middle class. Some might even say the whole milieu is too well-scrubbed to admit the true horror of what’s happening. As the movie continues, however, such reservations dissolve along with one’s composure. And finally, we do feel a vicarious release when the boy dies.
This film takes no particular chances, and it has nothing new to say, but it’s moving nonetheless. Beth Polson produced and also co-wrote the script (with Susan Nanus) from her own book. Mike Robe directed.