Parting Glances. 1986. USA. Directed by Bill Sherwood. 35mm. 90 min.
It’s 1982, and AIDS will have claimed almost a thousand lives by the end of the year. The Reagan administration’s flippant response to the epidemic was emblematic of the national malaise surrounding HIV in the early ’80s and the public refusal to accept gays as fellow human beings. It’s just two years after this that Bill Sherwood shoots his sole, underappreciated masterpiece, Parting Glances. The plot is deceptively simple: an isosceles love triangle between a loving gay couple, Robert and Michael, and Michael’s former boyfriend, Nick, who lives with HIV (a gaunt Steve Buscemi, in a heartfelt performance that launched his career). The candor and maturity of Sherwood’s characters shifts this well-tread tale into a profoundly tender transmission to an indifferent populace. Nearly 35 years later, these lovers are still raw with aching humanity.