Aside from the regrettably little-seen Buddies (1985) and Parting Glances (1986), Longtime Companion (1990) was the first feature film to deal explicitly with AIDS. At the time of its release, few filmmakers had examined the impact of AIDS on those living and dying with the disease. Feature films about gay men were still a rarity, and films about gay men with AIDS were non-existent. Although the film has been criticized for its focus on white, upper-class men, it uses this comfortable insularity to demonstrate AIDS' devastating effects, capturing the "it can't happen to me" attitude and the subsequent, horrific realization that, yes, it can. In exposing the lingering horror of AIDS, the film presents one of the first and still most poignant celluloid portraits of love and affection among gay men. The importance of its content aside, Longtime Companion also remains a remarkable display of ensemble acting, with almost uniformly excellent performances from its entire cast. A particular stand-out is Oscar nominee Bruce Davison, whose "Let it go" speech to his dying lover is one of the screen's most affecting depictions of love and loss.
by Rebecca Flint Marx review