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EVENT, THE(director/writer: Thom Fitzgerald; screenwriter: Steven Hillyer/Tim Marbeck; cinematographer: Tom Harting; editor: Christopher Cooper; music: Christophe Beck; cast: Parker Posey (Nick DeCivo), Don McKellar (Matthew Shapiro), Sarah Polley (Dana), Olympia Dukakis (Lila), Brent Carver (Brian), Joanna P. Adler (Gaby), Rejean J. Cournoyer (Drag queen), Richard Latessa (Uncle Leo); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Thom Fitzgerald/Bryan Hofbauer; ThinkFilm; 2003)
“The superb performances by Olympia Dukakis and Don McKellar are what make this film rise above its limited but well-meaning script.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A bittersweet comedy/drama played out with too much sentimentality and is far too schematic to be effective drama. It’s directed by Thom Fitzgerald (“3 Needles”/”The Hanging Garden”), and written by Fitzgerald along with cowriters Tim Marbeck and Steven Hillyer. It nevertheless shows its worth as it goes on to tell us that the AIDS crisis is still around and not just a Third World problem as many would have us believe. Even though its subject matter is important, it’s very well-acted and it raises thought-provoking questions about such issues as euthanasia, the film nevertheless feels flat and is structured like a second-rate police procedural thriller.

Assistant District Attorney Nicole “Nick” DeCivo (Parker Posey) returns to work after taking a leave of absence to mourn the death of her father after a longterm terminal illness and on her first case investigates the suspicious death of twentysomething Matt Shapiro (Don McKellar). He’s a gay cellist of some fame dying from AIDS, who committed suicide in his Manhattan apartment. Though the suicide itself is routine, Nick becomes wary when Matt’s toxicology report is similar to those of three other recent unexpected deaths and that all four AIDS victims, suffering from advance stages of HIV, were clients at the same AIDS treatment center run by Matthew’s close gay friend Brian (Brent Carver). Nick interviews Matt’s liberal Jewish mom (Olympia Dukakis), his supportive sister Dana (Sarah Polley), his non-supportive older sister Gaby (Joanna P. Adler) and friends. From her investigation, Nick believes anassisted suicide felony was committed and that family and friends helped Nick die (overdosing on his meds) and even held a big bash send off for Matt in his Chelsea pad, on the night of his death, and called the party “The Event.”

By using flashbacks, the director tells us about Matt’s life and in one great scene has him on a park bench revealing to mom that he’s gay and dying of AIDS. It’s all very tastefully done, but never reverberates as great drama and its simplistic black-and-white approach to life-and-death issues are never weighty enough, I’m afraid, to change anyone’s mind about euthanasia who might have been wavering.

The superb performances by Olympia Dukakis and Don McKellar are what make this film rise above its limited but well-meaning script.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”