An important and impressive film
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE EVENT came and went in the theatres like some spectral ghost which, despite its trappings, failed to serve notice of its importance not only as a social comment but as a showcase for some excellent talent. Director Thom Fitzgerald deserves great respect (and most certainly an audience!) for the brave statement of his film and the facile utilization of some extraordinary talent. The "Event" of the title refers to a final party for Matt (Don McKellar), a young man blessed with many friends and family, who has decided to end his deteriorating life of struggle with AIDS with a suicide finale, gaged to be abetted by those closest to him. The glitch comes (after the death) when detective "Nick" DeVivo (Parker Posey) decides that assisted suicide is a crime that must be punished and proceeds to investigate all of the people involved. It is this investigation that introduces us to Matt's entourage - a glitteringly excellent cast of family (Olympia Dukakis as his mother, Brent Carver as his partner) and friends, which include roles for Sarah Polly, Jane Leeves, and an actor who makes a Drag Queen performance one of the strongest roles since Torch Song Trilogy. Through a series of thoughtful flashbacks and flash-forwards we are allowed insight into each of these characters and to the reality of exactly how Matt's final wishes were completed - a tender and wonderful surprise ending. This story is told with a simultaneous celebration of life and a warm tenderness for the meaning of love in all its phases and forms, all in a setting of the persistent ravaging plague of AIDS that continues to deprive the world of treasured citizens and spirits. Fitzgerald is able to accomplish this without resorting to the maudlin, the banal, or the tempting "somewhere over the rainbow" saccharine tone that often accompanies films of this nature. This is a remarkable achievement and in every way this movie stands tall. Highly recommended."
A Frustrating Disappointment
Hunter | Pacific Northwest | 02/12/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"From an outside appearance, this indie drama looks to be casted quiet well with Olympia Dukakis and Parker Posey.
Unfortunately, even their performances lag due to the incredibly bad script writing and incompetent direction, cinematography and editing. As a person who loves good cinema and socially topical subject matters, I have to draw a line at some point and state that not all indie films are great. (Contrary to what I say most of the time.)
This is the kind of film that would be fine if it was part of a first year project for a film student at NYU; the viewer would have lesser expectations. Unfortunately, for the serious subject matter, this production was left in hands of people less capable for extracting the best from the artists involved on every level from writing to acting.
The cast has little with which to work due to what I feel is incompetent directing and lackluster production value of the film. This is a rare case where I would suggest that it would have been far better if managed by a larger Hollywood studio.
There was far too much talent in the cast to be squandered on such a horrible venture. Whomever funded this should seriously reconsider their idea of investments for the future. This was pretty bad from start to finish, which is a huge disappointment since I enjoyed the writer/director's first film The Hanging Gardens and because I've enjoyed several performances by many of the actors in previous projects. This is one of the worst productions I've seen decades."
This Film Was Over Before It Started.
Kevin Currie-Knight | Newark, Delaware | 03/30/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Social commentary is a good thing for art to do. Films like "The Life of David Gale," and "American Beauty" are cinemmatic masterpieces partly because they shock us into thinking about things we might not normally think about.
Then there are films like this that show that good social commentary can also make for pretty mediocre art. From the beginning, "The Event" feels contrived; you know exactly how it will end 5 minutes into the film (and can proffer a good guess before you even see the film).
While the acting was fine (excepting an embarrasingly akward showing from Parker Posey), it lacked the depth to me required of a plot so grave and deep. What was a disappointment, though, was the writing. What generally makes 'social commentary' films work is the push-and-pull and tension in its plot (think David Gale and Dead Man Walking). Here, there is no tension. A very sick man makes a decision to commit suicide and within a few minutes, all crying and subtlety stops; everyone is on board. While my symapthies lie with the 'right to die' movement, this seemed to me like a very one-sided view of a very more-than-one sided issue. The only tension - if one wants to call it that - was infused by Parker Posey as the assistant D.A. looking into the criminality of the situation, but this was very weak acting for a very weak character.
Because of this - because of the lack of tension and transparent predictability - what could have been a poignant take on an important issue skated on the verge of a pointless sadism. (There is something sadistic to me about a film that's climax is the on-screen actualization of a suicide everyone knows is 'just around the corner.')
Lest one want to think my bad review's impetus is bias against the film's message, I should repeat that I am quite symapthetic to the 'right to die' movement and always have been. The only bias my review is motivated by is that which says that even social commentary films - especially social commentary films - have an obligation not to be simplistic and cliche. "The Event," I feel, is both. It feels contrived from start to finish, and comes off as so concerned with the message that it loses any attention to the medium."