Steven Weber and Michael T. Weiss, in 'Jeffrey'

Dir. Christopher Ashley
(1995, R, 93 min)
★ ★ ½

Jeffrey is sort of a sitcom Angels in America, set about a decade after Tony Kushner’s masterpiece about gay life at the dawn of the AIDS crisis, a mid-point between ‘80s terror and ‘00s complacency. Paul Rudnick wrote the screenplay based on his 1992 play, and though made around the same time as Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work it feels a lot more dated, which is less the result of its subject than of its treatment. Directed too broadly by Christopher Ashley, a stage vet who treats the screen too much like the stage, it’s preachy and self-conscious, at times more a lesson than a story, but it’s not a bad film, per se. It’s blessed with excellent performances — though at times those performances seem to be coming from different films altogether — and sporadic insight into a period of sexual uncertainty and dread, and in its pioneering way it’s even an important film. I have a stubborn affection for it despite its flaws.

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