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Living End

1 rating: 4.0
A movie directed by Gregg Araki

A post-modern story of love between Jon and Luke, HIV positive gay lovers who are on the run from the law and take off on an aimless odyssey across the U.S. with literally nothing to lose.

Cast: Mike Dytri
Director: Gregg Araki
Release Date: 1992
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Living End

Indie film at its best, a buddy/road flick, oh, with AIDS

  • Nov 22, 2008
Rating:
+4
Pros: Storyline, pacing is fantastic, the acting is rough but generally good

Cons: Not a con for me, but it is gay for gay so be warned.

The Bottom Line: It was called the gay Thelma and Louise.  It is similar in points and if you like indie and TnL, this should entertain.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

The Living End, auteur Greg Araki’s first film, was the first film to take on AIDS from a gay perspective specifically to a gay audience.  What makes it different from films before it is that it tells a story that has AIDS moments in it but is really a road/buddy flick where the buddies have sex; there a story beyond the “woe is me” that began with Longtime Companion.

Jon (Craig Gilmore) discovers that he has AIDS.  He is emo before it was called that; much is made of the mopier groups of the day (Echo and the Bunnyman, The Smiths, Joy Division).  Due to a near accident—Luke (Mike Dytri) has shot some would be gay-bashers and jumps first onto, then into Jon’s car.  Both share that they are positive and begin a very fast and somewhat torrid (if torrid can be so modified) relationship.  They drive aimlessly around which fits Luke’s “I’m kind of between places to live” attitude and attacks, then beats the more staid and woe-betide attitude that Jon would likely have if left on his own.  This wandering is financed via credit cards that Luke would pick up along the way while hustling. 

There is no destination either for Luke, Jon, or the film.  The wandering rather than the getting there is the point.  Death is always fairly close to the surface (Luke has a gun) and it is very closely married to sex.

The Living End is pure indie at its best.  The film is grainy, the acting is only so-so because of the lack of rehearsal time.  There are strange silences between scenes as if the actors had to wait for a silent wave before starting.  Mr. Araki plays with close up shots, angles, landscapes, shadows like a kid with a new toy.  Despite all of that, it is a very good movie.  It weighs in at less than 90 minutes and is never boring.  The passion and fun Jon and Luke have show and is pushed beyond the screen.

There are a couple of side stories in the film—I will not go into detail.  These are added to put some breaks on what would otherwise be a film that spirals out of control due to the sometimes frantic nature of the road/buddy film motif; however, these stories are part of the plot and do are not “tacked on.”  Apart from the story itself, the control of the pace shows a maturity that so many other indie attempts do not have.

The film was released in 1992.  I saw it then and on the second viewing sixteen years later, it is still a good movie.  There isn’t much nudity, but it is a gay-for-gay movie, so if this bothers you, then best avoid it.  Otherwise, it is worth the time.

Recommended:
Yes
 

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