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LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION!

SYNOPSIS:
Eight male friends, all of them gay, leave the city behind for three simple weekends of rest and relaxation in a sprawling airy Victorian house, owned by brilliant choreographer Gregory (Stephen Bogardus), who is struggling with an ageing body. One by one, Gregory’s circle of friends arrives for the weekend, ready to unload their own worries and anxieties. They fall in love and fall from grace, hurt one another and forgive one another. They celebrate strengths and give in to weaknesses, they play jokes on each other and give a shoulder to each. They don tu-tus, for a very good cause. But no-one emerges from these weekends in the country the same. No one leaves without a humbling, surprising reminder of just how funny and heroic love is and how wondrous the human spirit can be.

"While Love Valour Compassion may have won a Tony award and critical praise on the stage, on celluloid it doesn’t have the same impact. Joe Mantello, who directed the stage version, makes this his screen directorial debut, delivering a slow, moody piece that relies on a strong ensemble cast and detailed characterisations. True, most of the cast are the same (the exception being Jason Alexander who takes on Nathan Lane’s role), but the transfer of medium is not kind to this character driven mood piece. The script is schmaltzy and too sentimental to engage or entertain at any depth. The gay issues canvassed seem a little tired; the film lacks freshness and pace. Jason Alexander gives a solid central performance as the spontaneous, outrageous Buzz living with AIDS; John Glover brings depth to the two characters of John and James Jeckyll, although James is at times portrayed with shades of melodrama; Randy Becker is enticing as Ramon, the hot dancer with the perfect body. This talented cast is let down by a script which sags into triteness and borders at times on soap opera. Putting individuals together in one location is always effective, giving plenty of scope to explore the different personalities and how they react in various situations. This can be revealing, especially when the themes are infidelity, commitment, resentment, and issues of a life and death nature. While the film may strive to be an insightful piece on gay men, and is no doubt aimed for that market, the gay topics seem heavy handed, and some of the situations are a tad dated. Full-frontal male nudity is not a big deal these days and the skinny dipping scenes appear contrived rather than spontaneous. Love! Valour! Compassion! is pretty to look at, and shows promise of emotional involvement, but surfaces too infrequently to overcome the slow pace. Disappointing."
Louise Keller

"Gay-themed stories are tough, and this film version of the acclaimed play is tougher than most. The story, dealing with a group of gay men and their various summer weekends in the country, is a film which is strikingly contradictory. On the one hand, the characters are plagued with gay-specific phobias and problems that we've all seen countless times, AIDS in particular. Like the dreaded disease itself, it festers throughout the film, continually reminding straight and gay alike, that AIDS is a destructive disease, a symbol of all that is dark in the homosexual community. On the other hand, the film, despite an often heavy handed and theatrical approach to the material, has such heart, humanity and genuine-ness to it, that one can ultimately forgive its obvious flaws, and become immersed in the film's deep sense of character and emotional richness. Though an ensemble piece, there are some glowing performances, especially from Britain's John Glover as twin brothers, one selfish, the other dying and selfless. Jason Alexander gives a brave performance as the lonely devotee of musical theatre, convinced that all musical performers, or performers generally, are gay. Though at times risking stereotype, Alexander strips such a façade away, as he reveals a basically tragic figure, destined, perhaps, to die alone. Love! Valour! Compassion! is by no means a flawless film, and its theatrical approach by a clearly inexperienced film maker (who directed the play on Broadway) at times mars its themes of camaraderie and love, but those problems notwithstanding, it's a work still worth seeing, one that is funny, touching and deeply human."
Paul Fischer

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LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION! (MA)
(US)

CAST: Jason Alexander, Randy Becker, Stephen Bogardus, John Glover, John Benjamin Hickey, Justin Kirk, Stephen Spinella

DIRECTOR: Joe Mantello

PRODUCER: Doug Chapin, Barry Krost

SCRIPT: Terrence McNally (based on his play)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alik Sakharov

EDITOR: Colleen Sharp

MUSIC: Harold Wheeler

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Francois Seguin

RUNNING TIME: 114 MINUTES

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 20, 1997







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