The new HBO film is a important, political statement on the raw intersection of drugs, sexuality, HIV and relationships in the inner city. Much of the word-of-mouth is around Queen Latifah's brilliant portrayal of Ana, who coordinates a support group for women in the "Life Support" HIV/AIDS awareness center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
One actor who needs to be singled out is young Evan Ross. (Yes, the same one we teased the other week. Sorry.) In case you haven't heard, Evan's teenaged character is HIV positive, an addict and hustler—and gay. No pretty pictures here—Evan's clothes are disheveled, hair uncombed and is totally the opposite of his usual clean cut persona. As Bernie would say, this is acting.
His character Amare is certainly one of the more complex and multi-dimensional black gay characters in recent television history. Amare is the best friend of Ana's (estranged) daughter. He was born poz and has been openly gay and using for some time; he often sells his medications to score, or, simply doesn't take them. His disappearance becomes the central focal point of the movie—Ana takes it upon herself to find him and, in the process, re-establishes a bond with her daughter. (BTW, here is some inspired casting: Tracee Ellis Ross, Evan's real-life sister, is cast as his on-screen sibling.) Certainly not your typical case of the television-movie gay black best friend who is the sassy sidekick. Life Support is an excellent vehicle for young Evan to hone his acting chops.
This is Nelson George's feature directorial debut and based upon the life of his sister, who is HIV positive and also runs a support group. Brilliant.
Life Support (Saturday 3/10 @ 8P on HBO)
Life Support (Variety)
Latifah Addresses Serious Issues (Movieweb)
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