So keen were the makers of this adaptation of Randy Shilts' best-seller to bombard us with the facts and figures of the history of AIDS that they forgot to offer a properly dramatic human framework to make us care fully about the characters. The all-star film (from HBO Pictures) covers the early years of research: by 1980, a handful of medics had begun investigating the AIDS virus, but, despite the escalation of the numbers of those infected or dead, politicians denied them adequate funding. Meanwhile, bigots spoke of a gay plague, scientists fought for the kudos of being first to identify the virus, and disagreements beset San Francisco's gays over the closure of the bathhouses. The film, quite rightly, deals with these issues; trouble is they make for a disjointed, clichéd narrative, with Modine's honest, visionary boffin striving to make public the Truth against all odds.
Cast and crew