A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
"He is survived," the obituaries sometimes say, "by his longtime companion." The phrase is taken by everybody to mean "lover," but newspapers prefer the euphemism, and only in the age of AIDS have they even finally admitted that homosexuals do not live, or die, alone.
Norman Rene's "Longtime Companion" is a film that begins on the day when an obscure story in the New York Times first mentions a disease that seems to be striking homosexual men, and it ends after AIDS has profoundly affected all of their lives - mostly, but not entirely, for the worse.
That first small cloud on the horizon was a story about a "gay cancer" that doctors were reporting among some of their homosexual patients. Within a few months, the Village Voice was providing in-depth reporting on the "gay plague," which eventually was named AIDS. But at the beginning, the characters in the story have difficulty in believing that a disease could seem to single them out.
The movie has been written by Craig Lucas as a series of scenes, sometimes separated by months or years, in the lives of several ordinary homosexual men, and it is the very everyday quality of their lives - work and home, love and cooking and weekends - that provides the bedrock for this film. The emphasis is on the notion of "longtime." During the course of the movie some characters will fall in love and others will break up, but most of them will be steadfast in their friendships and they will stand by each other in a series of crises. Of course others simply disappear when AIDS arrives to interfere with their personal priorities, but not everyone is a saint, and some of the events in this film require, or inspire, a quality of sainthood.