HBO Films presents Academy AwardŽ nominee Queen Latifah (Chicago) in a heartbreaking story of one woman's journey to the brink of self-destruction and despair, and her inspirational fight to gain back her dignity and her f... more »amily. Ana is an HIV-positive former drug addict from Brooklyn, desperately struggling with her past and passionately trying to make things right with her involvement in an AIDS outreach group, Life Support. Inspired by a true story, Life Support is a touching, poignant tale of loving, losing and letting go.DVD Features:
A Genuinely Fine and Fresh Look at an Ongoing Problem
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Once again HBO has produced a film for television that will doubtless be a success not only in its televised version but on theater release and/or DVD. LIFE SUPPORT as written by Nelson George, Hannah Weyer and Jim McKay and directed with power and restraint by Nelson George has the courage to delve deeply into the problem of AIDS in the black community and the result is a film that is not only informative but also a story of tremendous power about the sequelae of HIV infection on the lives of those infected and their families.
Based on the true story of a mother who as a crack cocaine addict became infected by her boyfriend's indiscriminate use of a shared needle and with the discovery of her sero-positive status turned her life around to become a powerful positive role model and AIDS activist in the black community. Ana Willis (Queen Latifah in a sterling performance) is married to Slick (Wendell Pierce), both of whom are HIV positive and both work, living with their young daughter Kim (Ravelle Parker) and trying to cope with their estranged daughter Kelly (Rachel Nicks, a true find of a young artist!) who elects to live with her grandmother, Ana's beleagured mother (Anna Deavere Smith, once again proving she is one of the premiere actors of the day). Kelly and Ana are at odds and their strained relationship is one of the evidences of the cruelties of the aftermath of ex-addicts manner of going straight. Kelly's closest friend is Omari (Evan Ross, gifted actor son of Diana Ross!) who is gay and is very ill with AIDS. Kelly asks for Ana's help when Omari disappears and it is through this act that the story plunges forward into the self help groups of AIDS patients Ana chairs, Ana's visit to Omari's boyfriends such as MJ (Darrin Dewitt Henson) who is very much on the down low, and Ana's ultimate finding herself as a mother, a wife, a caregiver and a fine activist in doing her part to prevent the spread of the dread disease form which she suffers.
The large cast is excellent with outstanding performances by Queen Latifah, Anna Deavere Smith, and Rachel Nicks and strong work by Evan Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross (another of Diana Ross' progeny) et al. The beauty of the film is the avoidance of grandstanding and overacting: the message is driven home quietly and with respect. It is a fine film that should be seen by everyone. Grady Harp, May 07 "
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 10/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"She started off as a rapper who spoke to us about respect and female empowerment but the lady also known as Dana Owens has come a long way since then. She's a genuine Hollywood Power Player and bona fide movie star these days. Not every role she's chosen has resulted in box office success but she has always been very thoughtful in her choices. Where there has been success, iconic and commercial, whether it be in a drama, comedy or musical, (from movies like Jungle Fever and Juice, to Set It Off and House Party 2, to others like Chicago (Widescreen Edition) and Barbershop 2 - Back in Business (Special Edition)), she's been one of the ones to watch. I was really excited when I learned earlier this year that she was to play this role. As HBO doesn't screen in this country I knew I was going to have to hope that it made it to DVD and luckily, it eventually did. I ordered my copy without a second thought.
This is a real life story based on director Nelson George's sister Andrea Williams who is HIV positive. Latifah plays Ana, a character based on Williams and we watch Ana as she works hard as a community AIDS activist to spread the safer sex/HIV prevention message through Life Support, the organisation she works for in Brooklyn, New York. We also watch her while she struggles to redeem herself for her past life decisions (she was a crack addict, apparently) not only in her own eyes but in the eyes of her mother Lucille, played by Anna Deavere Smith, and of her teenage daughter Kelly, played by Rachel Nicks, custodial rights to whom she had to give up to her mother as a result of her troubled past. We also watch her as she negotiates another challenging relationship in her life, i.e. with her husband Slick, played by the excellent Wendell Pierce, who is also living with HIV. It's an amazing piece of work and we get a glimpse into what it's really like for people (mostly women though, interestingly enough - I was like, where are the men?) whose lives have been impacted by this virus. It's not always easy to watch. Look out for a brilliant performance by Evan Ross who plays Amare, a troubled young HIV+ gay man who is best friends with Kelly. It's truly gut wrenching to watch him flounder, trying to deal with a whole range of issues, without the support he so desperately needs.
On a lighter note though, Brooklyn is one of my favourite places on the planet and it was really fun to see the various great location pieces Nelson George used in the movie. I think it is noteworthy though, that this movie hasn't had the profile that I feel it deserves. It makes me wonder why not. It could be that the message I got from the movie (that HIV is out there, it's real and we're all at risk) might not be one that audiences are willing to take on board. Given that HIV/AIDS are collectively a bigger problem in our communities than they were when they first appeared 25 years ago (and not a smaller one as one might have hoped), I wonder if we have the right attitude. People are still getting infected, people are still dying and it's not just gays, drug addicts or people from sub-Saharan Africa either.
Soapbox minute over, I think it was incredibly brave of Andrea Williams to put herself forward like this, of Nelson George to tackle the issue head on and of all the actors who agreed to participate in this project, Latifah most of all. But then she's never been afraid of taking on a challenge. I've invited friends round to watch it and have lent it to others so they can invite their friends round to watch it. I truly feel this is a movie we (especially black people) all need to see. I highly recommend it.
Latifah received a well-earned Emmy nomination for her performance but was pipped to the post by an equally deserving Helen Mirren who won for her performance in Prime Suspect 7 - The Final Act. There were notable performances also, from Gloria Reuben, Tracey Ellis Ross and Darrin Henson.
DVD extras include: an on-set diary with the director Nelson George; an exclusive deleted scene; a short piece called "Interview with Andrea Williams: The Inspiration for "Life Support"", and "The Story Behind The Story" - a behind the scenes featurette with Queen Latifah, Nelson George and Andrea Williams."
SETTING IT OFF AGAIN
Luther Mcrae | San Francisco Ca | 08/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I celebrate this sistah yes. She's not afraid of taking on diverse, challenging roles. Set it off should have received all kinds of awards. But maybe it was a movie before "Hollywood's" time (lol) Set it off was so real to me. And the queen was very convincing as "Cleo" I can't wait to see life support. And I wish the aids and dl subject could be adressed tastefully and differently. Hopefully this movie is on the way to making progress happen
Luther You do that queen !"
The strength of a woman
David Woodrome | 03/14/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Other than Queen Latifah, most of the actresses are common every day people who put together a cast that if not compelling, do portray living with HIV/AIDS in a very sensible way. I can't say that guys would really get into this movie, I didn't. For the women, positive or not, this is a movie that will touch heartstrings. Life Support does have a few lighter moments. Combined, when a movie makes me laugh and also shed a tear, I rate it as a good movie-and that is purely personal. After watching Life Support, I donated it to a local HIV/AIDS health care center, and I hope it provides a measure of reassurance and "support" to the clients, that there is "life" after being diagnosed positive."
Arnita D. Brown | USA | 01/06/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The true-life story of a mother who overcame an addiction to crack and became a positive role model and a AIDS activist in the black community. This is a very compelling story detailing the black experience with regard to home life and personal identifications and self-esteem.