Buddies ★★★★

Buddies is often said to be the first film to deal with the AIDS crisis. Director arthur J. Bressan Jr made Buddies on almost no budget, and it shows. Everything is minimalist, the acting isn't always great, and it's all a bit stilted. However Buddies transcends limitations. It is a deeply powerful work on the realities of the AIDS pandemic and the people left behind when it emerged. This is an explicitly political work, fighting back against the idea that AIDS is a gay disease and demanding better from society. People's lives and dreams were cruelly snatched away, yet social prejudice restricted research and funding. Buddies is a film of tears, of gay people afraid for their life and worrying about the moral failings of society. The film centres on two characters and almost everyone else is reduced to a voice offscreen. These two men have very different life experiences, from their parents to their attitude towards sexual labels. Buddies mostly consists of conversation. They talk about sex and identity and loneliness. They bring up various social questions and talk about the deliberate lack of effort to help those with AIDS as a form of genocide, perpetrated by a fundamentalist Christians. Through all this, we feel the pain of being alone and hated. One man masturbates in the dark and contemplates his own loneliness. Buddies is an unflinching work, that properly tackles AIDS as both a humanitarian and political issue. It is an important part of queer cinema and a valuable piece of art.

"A cruel God ain't no God at all"

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