“The 24th Day” is an independent film of a play written and directed by Tony Piccirillo and is unquestionably one of the best films to be released in the last few years. How it managed to go almost unnoticed is a question I will never understand. It s one of the most engrossing stories I have ever seen, the acting is what awards are made for and dialog and direction near perfection. It is a beautifully moving film that you will not likely forget. Let me say from the outset that this is going to be a major rave review. I know that I give a lot of good reviews but “The 24th Day” rises high above almost everything else I have reviewed. I just don’t understand how I could have missed it—it is already three years old (but it is available on DVD).
I feel I must say that in my opinion it is one of the finest achievements of American cinema. The script is one of the most amazing pieces of writing around and the acting seems to have fallen from paradise.
From the moments the credits roll you are treated to a beautifully photographed film. The film opens in a singles bar and slowly moves to the cluttered and musty apartment of Tom (Scott Speedman). Here it is quite cleat that Tom’s guest, Dan (James Marsden) thinks that he has come to have a sexual experience. As the banter between the two men progresses, we hear a lot of typical cruising jargon and then all of a sudden, Tom reminds Dan that this is not the first time they have been together. Five years previously they had an evening of sex and that had been Tom’s only foray into gay sex. During the last few weeks, Tom has been stalking Dan in revenge. It seems that he is HIV positive and the only place he could have gotten the virus was from Dan. Tom in turn transmitted the virus to his wife who after testing positive died in a car crash—just 24 days before.
Dan becomes captive to Tom and is tied and gagged while Tom withdraws a syringe of blood which he takes to be tested for HIV. He informs Dan that if it tests positive, he will kill him; if it is negative Dan is free to go. All of the action takes place in the apartment in this two character drama. During the dialog of the avenger and Dan such topics as truth, AIDS, gay vs. bisexual vs. straight sex, meaningless sex and commitment arise.
As we watch the development of the “relationship” between the two men, each disclosure becomes more and more startling and the men go through transformations, each more frightening then the one before until the story reaches an almost unbearably surprise climax. The audience is left to decipher and resolve the final issues. I sat in my seat exhausted. The movie wore on me and the tension was exceedingly strong,
This movie is the real thing—it is provocative, it is tense and it is impossible to predict. Never preachy, the film makes some interesting insights into personal responsibility.
It is the actors that make the movie what it is. It is not easy to maintain the level of tension when there are only two actors on the screen. Both of the actors are so much into their own roles that when the movie was over, I sat bewildered and lost when I realized that I had actually been watching a movie and not really experiencing the tension that the actors portrayed. What really gives this movie its importance is the way it confronted real issues, those that we as gay men should constantly be aware of. It shows us that everyone is responsible for his own conduct and the consequences. We live in a world where strange things are accepted—bare backing for one and substance abuse for another. What this movie portrays is what every man has to think about and to embrace. Here is a gay drama that addresses sexual responsibility in a mature and adult way.
Here is the best of low budget drama. We have two actors carrying a film alone, on their shoulders and doing so admirably and with style. The simplicity and storyline of the film a so much and this is a film that YOU MUST SEE.