The Event

Dying of AIDS can be long and painful, and a movie like The Event does it no justice. The movie is long and painful, due to its sanctimonious and preachy attitude. A movie with an opinion is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it may be a reason to watch it, since so many films these days are pretty bland. But, when a filmmaker tries to ram his message down the throats of the viewers, it quickly becomes annoying. The Event says that one thing is right, and everybody who doesn't believe so is wrong and stupid. It also has the dubious distinction of horribly miscasting Parker Posey (A Mighty Wind, The Sweetest Thing) as Assistant DA Nick DeVivo. DeVivo is investigating the death of Matt Shapiro (Don McKellar, Rub & Tug, This Might Be Good). She suspects that it is suicide.

Shapiro died of AIDS, the night of a large party he threw. Posey believes that it is one of a string of suicides, where the person with AIDS throws a last hurrah before committing suicide. DeVivo is vehemently anti-euthanasia, and she goes about ignorantly interviewing Matt's friends and family to determine what 'really' happened. This is a plot device that allows writer/director Thom Fitzgerald (The Wild Dogs, Beefcake) and co-writers Steven Hillyer and Tim Marback flash back so that everybody can see how Matt lived as a person. Each person that DeVivo meets shares an anecdote or two about Matt's life, and don't do much in helping her to solve the mystery.

Each person is too one-dimensional to make The Event worth watching. Worst of all is DeVivo, who is pursing this investigation with an almost irrational desire. It turns out that she is dealing with her father's death, and solving this may help her achieve closure. It's not very subtle, and takes a great actor like Posey and forces her to read bad lines flatly. None of the other actors do much better, most of them overacting. McKellar is whiny and annoying, as is Olympia Dukakis (The Intended, Brooklyn Sonnet) and Sarah Polley (My Life Without Me, No Such Thing) who play his mother, and sister. They are staunch supporters of any decision Matt makes, unlike his other sister Gaby (Joanna P. Adler, Down to You, Drop Back Ten), who vehemently opposes euthanasia.

As DeVivo gets a clearer picture of whom Matt was, it is clear to the viewer that this entire film feels like a bad piece of propaganda. Good propaganda can be interesting, but Fitzgerald is just too heavy-handed in his portrayals. Part of the problem is that the attitudes of some of the characters seem highly unenlightened. It's clear that the film takes place in the very recent past (as the references to the 9/11 attest to) but the characters feel like they were transplanted from the early 80s, when stereotypes of AIDS were much more ignorant. Fitzgerald shot the film in digital, which, well, who cares.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated R for sexual content, language, and some drug use.

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