Eric Roberts, miles away from direct-to-video action fodder, plays Nick, a man in the terminal stages of AIDS. Over the opening credits, we see his long-term relationship with Gregory Harrison rise and disintegrate, and in the present, this relationship and its fallout will have a major role to play at Nick’s party. This party, the heart of the film, is an event he throws to say goodbye to all his friends and family. The story has added poignancy since this is based on an actual event.
A good, effective soundtrack. The music has a very strong effect. Though not blasting loud,the sense of spatial volume is very strong, and almost suffices in itself to create an immersive environment. There are some sound effects coming out of the rear speakers, but not many, and they really take second place to the music. The dialogue is crisp and clear and without distortion.
Good to see a full 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, in this day and age of far too many phony 1.78:1 treatments. The colours are very strong: vibrant, solid, and in powerful contrast.The night scenes are very successful, with no bleached grey look. The transfer is untroubled by grain or noticeable edge enhancement.
The features have an added punch due to the personal nature of the project. Randal Kleiser,the writer/director, was a friend of the man on whom the Eric Roberts character is based, and the links between the movie and reality are emphasized throughout the extras, beginning with the commentary. This track, by Kleiser and a good chunk of cast and crew (including Roberts),touches quite a bit on the actual case, as well as going into plenty of detail on the making of the film itself.
The behind-the-scenes featurettes are, for once, real behind-the-scenes stuff. This aren’t slick promotional gimmicks. Instead, we see footage of a kissing scene being set up, discussions between Kleiser and composer Basil Poledouris about the score, and finally a videotape and photographs of Harry Stein’s house (where the real party took place) — footage that was used by Kleiser as research for the script. The photo gallery is divided into comparison shots of the actual party with the one in the film, comparisons of the storyboards with actual stills, and demonstrations of how the scenes in Greece were created. There are 15 extended or deleted scenes, though I couldn’t find the promised commentary. Finally, there’s the theatrical trailer.The menu’s main page is scored and animated.
The based-on-a-true story angle is interesting, but of course isn’t enough to make the movie,or TV would pump out nothing but classics. In this case, the film is blessed with good performances but quite a starry cast (even if some of the dialogue is a bit on the predictable side).