At the time of Longtime Companion's release in 1990, the devastating disease of AIDS was seen as a mysterious and deadly scourge, replete with rumors, lies, and panic. As the first narrative film to examine the AIDS epidemic, screenwriter Craig Lucas and director Norman René place the disease in an historical context, dramatizing the impact of the disease through time in a series of vignettes involving seven gay men. AIDS first made its presence felt surreptitiously, as an article in The New York Times reported on a rare cancer attacking gay men called Karposi's syndrome. Then the Village Voice began a series of in-depth articles concerning a "gay plague" which later became known as AIDS. The film follows the AIDS crisis through the lives of the seven main characters so that they are only aware of AIDS in the historical framework of each episode. The characters include former gay couple Willy (Campbell Scott) and John (Dermot Mulroney), first seen partying at a Fire Island club, who don't pay much attention to the mysterious article in The New York Times but become intimately effected by the disease. There is also Sean (Mark Lamos), a soap opera writer whose mind is slowly deteriorating because of the disease, and his supportive friend David (Bruce Davison).
by Paul Brenner synopsis