The Event

The Event

The Event is an emotionally powerful story told mostly in flashbacks of a gay man with AIDS who dies in an assisted suicide, setting off a criminal investigation.

Normally I only peruse a couple reviews at most before watching a movie, as, one, I don’t want to know too much of the plot in advance, and, two, I don’t want the opinions I express in these essays to be overly influenced by what I know other people wrote about the movie.

I did read a bit more prior to this film though, as for one thing it garnered less than fifty percent positive reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes site, and that made it pretty shaky to get on my list of movies to watch. I read several reviews, mostly negative ones, before deciding to give it a shot.

I was a little surprised by some of the reasons given for the negative reviews, and now having watched the movie, I’m a bit more surprised, if not a little offended.

The gist of a couple of the negative reviews was a kind of “Oh, this is so ’80s,” like why do we need another tired old AIDS movie, another reprise of Philadelphia and numerous others from back when AIDS was a headline story?

Another one actually expressed outrage that a present day AIDS movie would fail to address the fact that the most horrific AIDS-related devastation is occurring in Africa. (Yep, them gay folks sure are a bunch of drama queens. Won’t even get off the stage to make room for the Africans.)

I’m inclined to say anyone who thinks nowadays you just take a few pills when you get AIDS and you’re fine, and gay people dying of AIDS in America is a thing of the past (and especially anyone who thought that in 2003, which is when this movie came out) is precisely who should watch this movie as a wake-up call, but evidently some reviewers did and they didn’t wake up.

I understand if you want to say it’s a crappy movie, and that we shouldn’t decline to point that out just because it’s about AIDS. But some of the criticism has me shaking my head.

Anyway, I thought The Event was decent. I would rank it no worse than around the middle of the movies I’ve written about so far.

The story held my interest moderately well. It was a little slow at times, but never real bad.

There are actually a few moments of humor in the movie, and I thought they worked quite well. (Except for the feminine hygiene commercial, which isn’t even remotely plausible.) I especially got a kick out of the Pee-wee’s Playhouse-based gag. Humor in a movie like this seriously risks bad taste, but they pulled it off.

It may be an overstatement to say the man who commits suicide is heroic, but definitely I connected with the character, admired the way he conducted himself with grace and good humor, and respected his decision.

The idea that people would be hounded and treated as criminals for assisting someone like him in carrying out such a reasonable decision strikes me as yet another example of religious taboo-based morality running amuck.

If I had to single out one thing that touched me the most emotionally in The Event, one factor that took it from being a slightly slow movie that was just OK, to a movie I can recommend, it would be the performance of Olympia Dukakis as the mother.

I was very much caught up in the emotions of her dealing with a dying son. Utterly believable, powerful performance. Especially the death scene itself. If you can watch her in that scene and not feel something, I don’t know what to say. It’s one of only a handful of times in all these movies I’ve written about so far that I got choked up.

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