Co-stars Scott Marlowe and Matthew Risch give a pair of excellent performances in Chris Mason Johnson’s new 1985 period piece drama, Test. Set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco, the film is unique in that it isn’t about activism or gay men dying. In fact, it’s about dancing. This is not The Normal Heart — there are no deathbed scenes, but rather an authentic sense of vulnerability and anxiety as young dancer Frankie (Marlowe) navigates his life. Think Dancing = Life vs. Silence = Death. Of course the film’s title evokes the early days of HIV testing but it also points toward the film’s central coming of age theme as Frankie faces the trials of homophobia and effeminophobia in the modern dance world. As Frankie rehearses, his dance company director warns him, “Dance like a man!” When butch fellow dancer Todd (Risch) comes to his aid the two young men form a friendship and more. The film’s impressive choreography beautifully supplements the story, and the period soundtrack completes the film’s spot-on mid-’80s atmosphere with hits from Laurie Anderson, Bronski Beat, Cocteau Twins and Sylvester. Earning almost universal raves on the film festival circuit Test is currently rocking a very nice 89 percent RottenTomatoes.com rating.
Look for the film in theaters in San Francisco (June 6th), New York and Los Angeles (June 13th) and other cities in the coming weeks. It’s out today on digital nationwide (and coming to DVD June 17th).
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