US, 1986, 90 minutes, Colour.
John Bolger, Richard Ganoung, Steve Buscemi.
Directed by Bill Sherwood.
Parting Glances is an example of mid-'80s gay film-making, focusing on life in New York City. It was written and directed by Bill Sherwood, who subsequently died from an AIDS-related illness. He observes life amongst the homosexual community in New York, business, art, clubs, social.
The film focuses on a couple, the reaction of the couple to a mutual friend dying from AIDS. It also focuses on the nightclubs, the social parties, interrelationships, tensions as well as focusing on the response of the community to AIDS. The screenplay, unlike so many other films, does not consider homosexuality to be a problem, but presents the homosexual lifestyle in parallel with the heterosexual lifestyle. The tone is particularly that of New York - which may bewilder audiences not familiar with its style. However, as an attempt to present the homosexual community and individuals in a sympathetic and day-by-day light, the film is worth considering.
Later screen treatments of the AIDS situation include Early Frost, Longtime Companion, Philadelphia.
1.Impact of the film? Human drama? Relationship? AIDS and death?
2.The New York settings, apartments, homes, clubs, Fire Island? The musical score? Music? Performance art?
3.The title, the references to the principal characters, leaving and separation, death and separation? The quality of relationships?
4.The focus on Michael and Robert, their relationship, love, tensions? At home? Robert and his leaving - and his later explanations to Sarah about his need to get away, the relationship with Michael, his fear of Nick's illness and death? Michael and his Wisconsin background? In the gay community of New York? The establishing of the two as a couple?
5.Michael, the focus of the film, Robert and the separation? His wariness, his barbs? Going to buy the record for Nick? The encounter with Peter? The date and the address? The visit to Nick, his care for him, the bonds between the two? Cutting his finger, preparing the meal, the washing, his anxiety? The farewell dinner, chatting with Cecil, Betty and the discussion of relationships? The return home, the phone call from Joan, the surprise party? Michael and his meeting people, resisting Peter? Overhearing Robert talking with Sarah? The return home, his realisation about his relationship with Nick, with Robert? Taking Robert to the airport, his memories of Nick at Fire Island? The phone call, Robert's return, his not going to Africa? The plane to Fire Island? The possibility of rescuing Nick - and the pointing in different directions over the oceans to destinations? The sudden ending of the film? Michael's future?
6.Robert, his work with Cecil, the relationship, not telling his family about his orientation? His avoiding Nick? The dinner, the party, discussions with Sarah? Going to the club, ringing Nick? The airport, his decision to stay and face reality?
7.Nick, his friendship with Michael, living in New York, the gay scene, the conversation with Peter on the staircase, the explanation of his background, Michael's coming to New York? His illness? Art and music? His making his will on video? The phone call from Robert, his decision to go to the party? Diet, exercise, illness? The conversation with Peter, his hallucination in his apartment? His going to Fire Island, facing his death?
8.Peter, the record shop, making dates, the attraction to Michael, going to the party, being eyed by the guests? Michael and his aloofness? His explanation of the attraction, his explanation of his own orientation, school behaviour, family?
9.The guests at the party, their behaviour, the homosexual community, interactions with one another? Friendships, relationships? Performance? The attitude towards AIDS - and the fat guest and his being glad not to have caught the plague? The German pianist and his fascination with death, discussions with Nick? The former seminarian and relationships? Joan, her sympathy with Michael?
10.Cecil and Betty, their lifestyle, Cecil and his relationships, going on his travels? Betty, her sympathy?
11.Audience response to homosexuality, relationships, moral stances, AIDS, suffering and death?