This film is heartbreaking. There is despair and disbelief. The film is very dramatic. It took three times watching this film before I could absorb what was happening, how quickly time seeped away from those who had the AIDS virus but more for those who were fighting something they barely had questions for.
The ensemble is star studded but I was most profoundly in awe of the character Mickey (Joe Mantello). He delivered a monologue and it seemed as though he forgot to breathe through his streaming tears. He was furious about the people he loved and did not even know were dying from AIDS. Matt Bomer delved into his multi-dimensional character Felix Turner for a pure performance. Mark Ruffalo was stellar as Ned Weeks in his fight to get the virus known to the government and the gay community but also the selfish nature that kept him for achieving many of his goals. Jim Parsons as Tommy Boatwright was wonderful switching from sarcasm to drama. Julia Roberts, with her make-up free face and tight-haired bun, was ever the actress the screen knows of her. Alfred Molina, who played Ben, Ned’s older brother only had a few scenes but his presence was felt onscreen as Ned’s activism put a strain on their once tight relationship.
In many of the scenes, Director Ryan Murphy must have let the camera sit and just let the actors deliver. He played dear attention to details and let the film absorb the anger with the shift of celebration in the beginning of the film to the fear of the unknown. The writing not only told the fear amongst homosexuals but the even further hate and disgust from heterosexuals. Through a character named Ellie, the want to help and be an ally was portrayed.
HBO was the perfect network to play this film as they tell human stories. The film is graphic but with HBO the content felt like it was seen all the time. The play took thirty years to be adapted into a film but may have waited for this ensemble to tell this story. The play had a prolific conversation in the height of the AIDS epidemic. As AIDS is still being spread, the narrative continues through this adaptation.