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kaos at BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival


 kaos at 
 BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival 

Test

There's a lot to like about Chris Mason Johnson's 1985 San Francisco time capsule Test, but it has its faults, too. (San Francisco. Fault. See what I did there? ... Tough crowd.)

"A wonderfully evocative period drama that explores the telling details of gay life in San Francisco in 1985 with a fantastically upbeat 80s soundtrack. Frankie is a young performer in a modern dance troupe and is constantly berated by his coach to ‘dance like a man’. This mild homophobia is replicated in the wider world beginning to panic over HIV. He grapples with the pleasures and pain of promiscuity and the desire for a relationship. But when the chance to take the first test for HIV comes along, it brings with it a host of issues."

The dance pieces are fantastic, as is the '80s music, but lead Scott Marlowe (Frankie) left me stone cold. Marlowe is a dancer, so although he doesn't miss a step in the dance sequences, he lacks the charisma to really hold the screen. His character is another example of an overused gay film trope: the nervous, introverted boy. I think we've seen all we need of those.

Much has been made of the film's "period piece" status, but it doesn't really feel much like 1985 a lot of the time. Test didn't have a huge budget, but Johnson missed a trick or two for really selling the era. Katherine Wells' Molly has a very 2013 'do, that ought to have been permed, you know, like girls in the '80s did.

Test is interesting, it's the story of the guys who somehow didn't get AIDS back then. And that's kind of a new angle on the story. But the film is at its best with the dance sequences, where dancer Marlowe and former dancer Chris Mason Johnson are most at home.

Next: Hawaii



More from kaos at BFI Flare.

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