Saturday, July 30, 2011

What's up with Gay (-themed) Movies? Part 6: Jeffrey


Maybe we are too far away from the days when the AIDS crisis was the number one topic on the gay community, but watching this film just did not strike me as an experience I would want to repeat—ever.

Jeffrey loves sex. But it seems that every time he is having sex with someone or is about to have sex, the disease gets in the way in the form of over-the-top caution resulting from extreme paranoia. So sex has simply become too fraught with frustration for poor Jeffrey to be willing to engage in any longer. He decides to give up the activity he loves best.

Then he meets Steve at the gym (where Jeffrey is working out, an activity he has decided is a decent replacement for sex), and there is instant chemistry. But as Jeffrey has vowed not to have sex, there is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game as Steve—along with Sterling, Jeffrey’s best friend (played by Patrick Stewart) and Sterling’s ditzy lover, Darius—tries to convince Jeffrey to jump into the sack. Things seem to be progressing nicely in this direction until Steve informs Jeffrey that he is HIV-positive. Suddenly Jeffrey has become the paranoid one and immediately backs off. Steve is hurt and offended and abandons the chase.

Meanwhile we learn that Darius is also HIV-positive, and ends up dying of AIDS. Jeffrey recognizes that he wants more than sex but is now afraid to make a commitment for fear of his partner dying. In his struggle with this dilemma he attends a workshop run by a self-obsessed New Age guru, played by Sigourney Weaver, and goes to a Catholic church to seek answers, only to be hit on by a horny gay priest obsessed with Broadway show tunes (played by the always perfect Nathan Lane).

But it is Sterling and the deceased Darius who finally convince Jeffrey that the experience of truly living life and truly loving another person is worth the pain of seeing them suffer and die. About to enter heaven, Darius tells Jeffrey, “Hate AIDS, not life.”

In its online review, calls Jeffrey “surprisingly lighthearted and witty.” The film just didn’t strike me that way. Apart from a funny scene with Jeffrey’s parents and Nathan Lane’s antic priest, I found it flat, self-conscious, and forced.

And it was narrated.


  1. Thank you! This was on TV once a while back, and I don't think I even finished it. The fantasy-musical number, the handwringing about HIV - I was 7 when this movie was new and I think even had I seen it then I would have found it dated and unpleasantly anthropological in tone (like hetero filmmakers peering in).

  2. Thanks for your comment, Geoff. I have reviewed eight films (all the movies in my so-called "gay collection") and certainly this was my least favorite. I wonder if you have seen any of the others and what you might think.