“Silverlake Life: The View from Here”

Life with AIDS

Amos Lassen

AIDS has been part of the subjects of gay movies for many years now. We cannot forget how the disease devastated our numbers and took beautiful people from us. There is no question that AIDS has influenced the way we act and think and even though it may no longer be a death sentence, we must not forget that there s still no cure and that we must live cautiously. Looking at “Silverlake Life” we see a period of time that was so very different than the way that we live today. It is a documentary about two men who live and die with the disease. As a film it will break your heart, it will make you laugh and it will move you.

Plain and straightforward, it is like watching a home movie. We see two men who love each other and how AIDS affects the quality of everyday lives.

Imagine, if you can, a film that has no frills, no extras, and no trained actors. This allows the film to be completely sincere. The integrity of the two men s incredible and as they are reduced to the most basic parts of their beings, we get to enter their lives and feel as if we belong there. These two men made this move so we could understand what the disease was doing.

As you meet Mark and Tom in the beginning of the film, you do so with humor. As the two begin to tell their story they touch you and you find that you are falling in love with them. Seeing the pain that these men carry is hard and it is even harder to see their death.

The documentary deals with more than AIDS—it shows many things about gay life. As it shows the love that the Tom and Mark shared for over 20 years, we see pain and pleasure and joy and empathy.

The most important thing that comes out of this movie is the impact of AIDS on the gay community. So much has happened medically and psychologically since 1993 when the film was released, that perhaps you might find it to be dated. We are not finished with AIDS yet and I d not know if we ever will be.

Looking at the relationship between Tom and Mark, we see love in what appears to be its purest form. Watching a movie about AIDS is not easy and here it is especially hard as we know the outcome before it happens. But “Silverlake” also teaches us how to care for each other in hard times and it shows life at any time reminding us that just a few steps away, there is a disease that could dispose of all of us.

The scene in which Tom sings “You Are My Sunshine” to Mark as he tells him goodbye is one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I have one final thought—I realized how great it is to be alive in a world where all of us could be dead at the drop of a pin.

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