MiniReview: "An Early Frost" (film)

A wonderful cast. I love these earnest TV movies of the 1970s and 1980s, which often gave a voice to stories that wouldn't have made it to the big screen. This has to be one of the best.

What is it?

A 1985 American television film.


We don’t often review TV movies. What’s so special about this one?

It was the first major film (TV or big-screen) to deal with the subject of AIDS, and one of the first (at least that I’ve seen) to sympathetically portray gay men.


What’s it about?

A young Chicago lawyer, gay and in a relationship, comes down with AIDS and must come out to his parents.


Very succinct.

There’s really no need to say much more. The story of the film is quite “basic” because it was dealing with a subject that had never been dealt with before in any kind of major movie. So it is in some ways the ur-story dealing with AIDS.  


Does that means it’s dull, or unimaginative, or predictable?

It probably could be, but thankfully, this movie has a wonderful cast: Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara as the parents (she’s sympathetic, he’s hostile), Sylvia Sidney as the grandmother (wise and understanding), and Aidan Quinn as the young lawyer (gorgeous and nice, but a tad arrogant). Between them, they make the film eminently watchable. And I was surprised that it doesn’t feel terribly dated. The only thing I noted was that the film is quite nervous about showing much same-sex affection (never mind sex). That’s left to our imaginations. But really, the film seems remarkably honest about gay lives.


Truly a minireview! Short and sweet. (Sometimes we go on a bit.) Stars?

One. This isn’t by any means a great film, but it offers a priceless glimpse into those early days of the AIDS plague (this was made in 1985!) when no one knew what the hell was going on. Bravo to everyone involved, as this put kind, normal human faces on the tabloid scare stories.

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