Hard-core and unsentimental, this low-budget road movie/romance between two HIV-positive gay men manages to be bizarre, bitter, and intriguing. Figuring they have nothing to lose, Craig Gilmore and Mike Dytri hit the road ... more »as fugitives, where they act out bad-boy fantasies amid provocative conversations. Director Greg Araki, who also wrote the script, does a decent job of juggling black humor and bleak rage. It's a tough movie to watch, but nihilism rarely looks this good. Araki continued his bleak look at life with later films, The Doom Generation and Nowhere, both of which pander more obviously to self-involved Gen-Xers. --Rochelle O'Gorman« less
"Probably the greatest -- certainly the angriest and funniest -- film ever made about HIV+ young men. It is 'dedicated' to a Republican government (George I) that cares nothing for its citizens with AIDS.
"The Living End" is a remarkable love story. It begins with Jon (Craig Gilmore) being rather glibly told that he is HIV+. A mild-mannered film critic who never rocked the boat, Jon is dazed and confused. Just as he is wondering what he will do next, Jon meets Luke (perfectly played by Mike Dytri), a stunningly handsome trouble-magnet (and the sweetest hunk you'll ever see) who is on the lam. Their lives are changed forever. With a super-heated film chemistry, Jon and Luke fall in love. With nothing to lose, they set out on a darkly comic and violent crime spree -- Thelma and Louise with a twist. The world around them is dangerous, and the road of love is rocky: they fight, break up, make up, make love, but find that, in the end, they still have each other. Theirs is, quite simply, one of the most gut-wrenching and genuine love stories ever filmed.
This release is basically a DVD copy of the tape, but a good one. This film masterpiece deserves a first class Criterion remastering. But, until that happens, I am grateful to Platinum Disc for bringing it out on DVD, at long last. You will not be left unscathed, or untouched, by Araki's powerful, moving story of Jon and the beautiful Luke."
Brilliance! Araki's film is a gem!
D. Litton | Wilmington, NC | 06/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Living End" is an independent film in every sense of the word: no music, no production design or apparent costume design, no special effects or widescreen ratio, and no Hollywood gloss. What it does have it a simple story of two men involved in a "Thelma and Louise" storyline who share an offbeat, unconventional yet touching romance. Moments of black comedy tinged with violence and preachy dialogue provide a nice collaboration, though there are a few pitfalls involving the inclusion of supporting characters. The story goes like this: two guys are introduced to us in separate lifestyles. Jon has just discovered that he is HIV-positive, though his outlook on life is not so hindered as he expected it would be. Luke, a drifter, makes his way to the city, where, upon brutally murdering three gay-bashers, he hitches a ride with unsuspecting Jon back to his place, where quaint small talk turns into a night of passion. Right from the beginning, their attachment to one another is kinetic and bursting with energy, moreso than in the regular romances Hollywood pelts us with. Yet they have their disputes, and after a fight over Luke beating up a gay-basher, Jon demands that he leave, only to find that he cannot stop thinking about him. When Luke returns, he reveals that he has killed a cop, though Jon seems unmoved by the revelation, and continues to hold and embrace him, a very touching moment.The two embark on a journey to nowhere, where they discover their love for one another and the many differences they share on their outlook on society and life itself. Luke knows that he loves Jon more than anything else in life, but Jon becomes unsettled by Luke's violent acts and short fuse. The movie then generates into a question of whether they will be together in the end or not. Their relationship is unlike anything I've ever seen in a movie. At times, the rebel storyline takes a backseat to the passion shared by the two lovers. Luke's revelation of murder to Jon while in his arms is a very affecting moment, while sexual scenes shared between the two evolve into something more passionate and intimate, becoming more than just sex. Director/writer/editor/photographer Gregg Araki balances the sexual with the intimate in just the right manner. Araki also balances their relationship with violent acts and black comedy, the kind which leaves us confused as to whether or not we should laugh or think harder. The dialogue shared between Jon and Luke involves a lot of societal discussion, mainly about how AIDS has become a social disease instead of a physical one. Luke's disdain for society's treatment of him leads him on in his rampage, while Jon follows him because of his deep emotional attachment to him. More than just an examination of societal issues, the movie also uses the relationship between Jon and Luke to look at differences that can occur in a relationship. Jon is put off by the violence in his newfound love, and does not share the same beliefs as Luke. But that doesn't stop them from being together, nor does it succeed in tearing them apart. I think this is probably one of the strongest movie relationships portrayed in a film ever. The convincing elements of the movie are due in major part to actors Mike Dytri, playing Luke, and Craig Gilmore, playing Jon. Their chemistry is full of sexual and emotional energy, and in these types of scenes, their talent is beautifully put to good use. Dytri does a good job of portraying Luke as hardened but retaining a soft spot for Jon, while Gilmore portrays Jon as timid yet strong. So many good things come from this movie that my only complaint arises from the somewhat uninvolving storyline centering around Jon's friend, Darcy (Darcy Marta). While Jon is away on his adventure, she waits at home, sitting by the phone waiting for his call, driving her cheating boyfriend crazy. Her character seems a bit misplaced and uneven, though Marta's acting is certainly high-caliber. I remember, in my preteen years, I once wrote a small series of short stories involving adventures between two men in love. Seeing "The Living End" brought back memories of those stories, while also moving me in a way that seems hidden from me. I can't really say why this movie hooked me as it did: perhaps the wonderful acting and the articulate romance, or the offbeat feel of the movie that is a welcome touch after so many glossy movies. What I can say is that this is one of the best movies I've ever seen, and one of the most convincing. See it for what it really is: a heartfelt passionate love story amidst angst and societal furor."
Finally on DVD
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 02/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Living End"
Finally on DVD
One of the most acclaimed gay themed films of all time is finally available on DVD and we have Strand Releasing to thank for that. "The Living End" is not only a classic film; it is in a category of its own basically because it ushered in the new age of queer movie making. This is also the film that brought Greg Araki the place he so rightfully deserves in the canon of gay cinema. "The Living End" is not a film for everyone but if you are someone who respects audacity and independence, there is much to be gained here. It is a priceless low budget film with is saturated with talent, vigor and playfulness while undertaking a very serious issue. Greg Araki is a very odd kind of director because he manages to maintain his own singular individuality and he does so with a great sense of class. Two men, both HIV positive, one extremely sensitive (Jon), the other a hustler, Luke, who is totally free thinking are finding ways to live in a world that seems not to care if they exist or not. The movie opens with Luke scribbling graffiti, "Fuck the World" on a wall. He seems to have given up. The two begin a road trip to the west where they try to find anything that is worth their time. As they roam, we examine the difference between sex and love and study the relationship between the two men which becomes more and more complicated as the film progresses. Luke's attitude gets them into trouble on many occasions and Jon is willing to forego love in order to be able to continue his life responsibly and for as long as he can. That the two men love each other is obvious but they seem to exist under a cloud of sadness. The film is the cutting edge of the 90's and the dialog is brutally honest. The movie has humor which is frightful as the two boys go on what is their final trip. The two guys violently protest anything and everything--they are extremely angry. At the time the film was made it was considered radical to the nth degree. We did not have gay characters on TV and today the movie seems quite mild. It is when we put it in its historical context--pre-"Ellen", pre-"Will and Grace" and pre-"Brokeback Mountain"--that we see what an important film it is. The production values are pretty bad and when taken out of that historical context, many will consider it to be mediocre at best. At the time it was made, it was something that was completely different. Dealing with HIV, AIDS, and teen rage, we get two gay anti-heroes who, while not being role models, who come across not as negative stereotypes from the way straight society looks at them. There is no attempt to present political correctness especially in the way sex and violence are linked together. A character study of the early 90's and docudrama, "The Living End" tells it like it was. There are times when the film philosophizes and times when it is completely abstract. As the lives of the two characters are explored, we are presented with a surrealistic and exploratory journey which reminds us of a time now past. All of us knew a character like one of the men in the film. This case study in human nature is at times uncomfortable but it does show that AIDS still is not an important priority of our government, at least not to those suffering from the disease. Realistic and serious, this is a stark and unbridled look at what happens when lives are lived with little hope, A word about the ending without giving it away--it is horrific and brutal and even though the film had to end this way, when you actually watch it, it will affect you deeply. I have read many bad reviews about this film and I suspect that they were written by either those who did not live through the period or by those who compare this to Araki's later and more refined films. This was Greg Araki's first film and as a debut it must be looked at for what it does present and not foe what it omitted. I found it shattering and beautiful but, then, that is my opinion. "
A MUST SEE GAY FILM, ONE FOR UR COLLECTION!
yaaah69 | albuquerque, nm United States | 08/03/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I would have gladly rated this movie with ***** stars, but, the picture was not clear and the sound kept going from 2-10 decibels.
The acting was great and the actors really worked with each other and fit together.
This is a love, all of us dream about! Luke is wild, physical and a little on the crazed-side, handy with a gun. But, he still can relate with his tender side as shown in the shower scene and his admitted love for Jon, as he tells Jon "you will never find anyone who loves you the way I do" And Jon soon realizes this ; although he doesn't like the way Luke snuffs-out homophobic red-necks, he cannot tear himself away.
At one point Jon kicks Luke out,then cannot get him out of his mind.
Luke returns, enters Jon's apartment and Jon awakens to Luke standing before him with the gun in his mouth(this is one of the greatest scenes ever). If for no other reason, you have got to see this scene.
They have their fights, but Luke always maintains his love for Jon. And you feel the deep love Jon has for Luke.
This film came out in 1993, where have I been that I missed this great film. I have nothing to compare it with except the intense film 'BENT'.
But, I know some of the milk-sop movies from our great film capital cannot sit in the same room as this film.
Accolades for Araki, Dytri and Gilmore!!
It WOULD really be great to see what they could do with this in DVD. They might be able to get the pic. and sound fixed. Rated *** but wanted to rate *****!ciao yaaah69"
'Thelma and Louise' with a twist
M. FUSCO | NEW YORK, NY | 07/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gregg Araki expertly and faultlessly takes the 'buddy' film and elevates it with black humor, nihilism, and a bittersweet love story in this little gem. He angrily 'dedicates' it to a Republican government which cares nothing for the suffering of it's citizens with AIDS. Sad to say, not much has changed since the days of Bush I when this remarkable film was made."The Living End" opens with Jon (Craig Gilmore) being rather glibly told he is HIV+. Dazed and confused, his outlook on life and work is forever altered. One gets the impression that he was rather a 'goody two-shoes' prior to this announcement, but that all changes when he meets Luke (perfectly played by Mike Dytri), a stunningly handsome, sweet hunk on the lam. A veritable magnet for trouble with his in-your-face anger toward the homophobia which surrounds them, he is also HIV+. Jon and Luke begin a violent, surreal, humorous crime-spree and passionate love affair (one of the most honest on film). They fight, break up, make up, make love, and ultimately come to terms with each other. The world around them is hateful and senseless, but they will protect each other. "The Living End" (Araki's masterpiece and the best HIV film ever made) has finally been released on DVD by Platinum Discs, for which I am deeply grateful. But it truly deserves a full re-mastering on the level of Criterion, with comment by its extraordinary participants. I mean, whatever happened to the magnificent Mike Dytri?!"