Uncertainty about the AIDS crisis as it unfolded shaped many gay mens’ lives. This films puts that fear into dance and the life of one specific dancer.
The official synopsis: San Francisco, 1985: Frankie confronts the challenges of being an understudy in a modern dance company as he embarks on a budding relationship with Todd, a veteran dancer in the same company and the bad boy to Frankie’s innocent. As Frankie and Todd’s friendship deepens, they navigate a world of risk – it’s the early years of the epidemic – but also a world of hope, humor, visual beauty and musical relief.
We kinda drop in on Frankie without much back story, and start to see his life as it unfolds. He dances and listens to his Walkman to escape into another world. As the AIDS epidemic starts to unfold and his personal involvement is in question I think he wants to get away from it.
Frankie is not very sure of himself as he is coming to terms with being a gay man in the 1980s and in the midst of an epidemic. He starts out the story seeming very serious, introverted, and judgmental although he opens up as the story goes on. The judgmental part is ironic. He’s not out to his family, and he’s discovering what he wants in a relationship given the four very different m en he finds himself “with.” He’s not sure about his dancing and how that affects his image of himself and his own masculinity. He’s told, “Dance like a f*ing man. Think about what that might mean physically…”
One of the main focuses and themes is dealing with the arising epidemic and how that affected gay men personally. One of the most moving parts of the story and scenes involve Frankie getting tested. It’s something that some of us can relate to with the fear and uncertainty of waiting.. Really, a lot of this whole movie comes back to those things – fear and uncertainty – and the potential for growing beyond those things.
The film is beautifully shot with great visuals including the (lots of) dancing. The actors are obviously talented dancers, and it was unique to see a story that involved this life. The music was very good, and all production values were good. The story felt drawn out at times while it focused on the emotions of the characters. Either there was a lot of metaphor (which I could probably tease out at length) or sometimes the story seemed unfocused with extraneous or unfocused plot elements.
One thing I found amusing was watching Frankie struggle with a tangled up phone cord. Just think the current generation will have no clue about that struggle!
Films about the gay community’s history, especially dealing with HIV/AIDS, are important. This part of the story is important and moving (literally). It’s a film that wants to make you feel more than understand a story.