A sprawling tale/fable/meditation centred on the early AIDS plague and the American dream,Angels in America is set in 1985, and traces hypocrisy and courage, disillusion and faithin the face of the disease. Prior (Justin Kirk) reveals to his lover Louis (Ben Shenkman) that hehas AIDS. Louis leaves him, and takes up with lawyer (Patrick Wilson), who, as a Mormon, ispretty damn closeted. His wife Harper (Mary-Louise Parker) spirals into depression. Meanwhile,spectacula…ly vile lawyer (and real historical figure) Roy Cohn (Al Pacino) is also closeted, alsodying of AIDS, and still rantingly homophobic as his confronts the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg(Meryl Streep, in one of three roles). Prior, meanwhile, is visited by angel Emma Thompson.
This is, of course, a massive oversimplification of a six-hour play. Director Mike Nicholsand writer Tony Kushner (adapting his own work) have opened the play up visually inconvincing ways, though some aspects that worked very well on stage aren’t as successful onfilm: principally, this would be the doubling up of roles (Streep and Thompson take on threeeach), and florid style to the dialogue that, devastating in a theatre, can be hokey in thismedium.
There is some very, very minor buzz on the dialogue (good thing it’s minor, given how muchdialogue there is). The audio comes in both 5.1 and 2.0, but the extra effort hardly seemsnecessary, given how little surround effect there is. Still, the sound is overall crisp and clean, andwhat really counts here is the dialogue.
No complaints about the picture, which has none of the flaws that bedevil so many TVtransfers. The image is extremely sharp, and presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Thecolours are very warm, with the palette displaying a wide range of moods. There is no visibleedge enhancement or grain. Good stuff.
None. The menu’s intro and main screen are animated and scored.
An enormously ambitious, laudable production, that is eminently worth watching even if itdoesn’t achieve the transcendent perfection some would claim for it.