a film by John Greyson
1993 | 96 mins | Canada
›› Zero Patience
a movie musical about AIDS
Zero Patience by John Greyson Could the subject of AIDS ever be turned into a film musical? One would think not. But then it has been made into a roadmovie - cue THE LIVING END, a comedy - think Jeffrey, let alone a major Hollywood courtroom drama - roll PHILADELPHIA, so why not a movie musical? Certainly director John Greyson thought so and along the way delivered a work that charts in satirical musical fashion, some timely home truths about AIDS.

For in 1987, newspapers around the world accused a Canadian flight attendant of bringing AIDS to North America. Dubbed Patient Zero, the reality of the situation was far from the media headlines of the day, given at no point did the Centre for Disease Control conclude the Patient Zero had introduced AIDS to North America.

Determined to let the truth be known, Greyson delivered one of the most original AIDS-themed features of the New Queer Cinema movement. For welcome to the world of Victorian explorer and orientalist Sir Richard Francis Burton, now turned 20th Century researcher thanks to having inadvertently drank from the Fountain of Youth! Yet all is not well in his life. For his exhibition charting contagious diseases with AIDS as the centrepiece, lacks the appeal to ensure his return to fame and fortune. Not to worry though, for this man of science has more than a few surprises hidden up his sleeve, including the reworking of raw interview footage, so as to fit the picture, as against detail the facts, that he wants to present to the scientific community about Patient Zero.

Zero Patience by John Greyson Trouble is, he hadn't counted on Zero returning in person to set the record straight. And boy does he set more than just the record straight, having cast his mind and body over the one who is all too keen to fan the flames of homophobic AIDS rhetoric. In short, what we have here is but a cinematic ploy by which to detail numerous misconceptions held by the media and the public at large, on both Zero and the disease itself. Only in throwing caution and a lot else to the wind, this atypical AIDS feature chose to deliver the facts courtesy of a series of over-the-top production numbers, including such titles as the fun-filled 'Pop-A-Boner' routine, the singing asshole style delivery of 'The Butthole Duet' together with a star turn from Michael Callen as falsetto-voiced Miss HIV. To be frank, not all of the set-pieces work, but amongst the rough are some vocal gems, including the emotional song 'Positive.'

Sure the end result is at times crude, if not downright rude. But it's also a lot of fun; having sexed up a serious subject to deliver politically correct facts in a totally politically incorrect manner!

Just Like Scheherazade | Culture of Certainty | Pop-A-Boner | Control | The Butthole Duet
Positive | Contagious | Miss HIV's Scheherazade | Six or Seven Things
Zero Patience | Scheherazade (Tell a Story)
available on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue
music by Glenn Schellenberg, lyrics by John Greyson and Glenn Schellenberg
starring: John Robinson, Normand Fauteux, Dianne Heatherington, Richardo Keens-Douglas,
Bernard Behrens, Charlotte Boisjoli, Brenda Kamino, Michael Callen, Marla Lukofsky
Copyright 2005 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #101
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