SILVERLAKE LIFE: THE VIEW FROM HERE is a profoundly moving video diary of a couple living with AIDS. It combines a tender love story with an uncompromising look at the brutality of the disease.
Tom Joslin and Mark Massi lived together for 22 years. When Massi developed full-blown AIDS in 1989, Joslin, a documentary filmmaker and professor at the University of Southern California, set out to document his lover's illness in a video diary. When Joslin also became sick, the diary expanded
to record the inexorably fading lives of both men. Joslin failed faster and Massi took up the filming through Joslin's death in 1990. Massi died six months later, leaving 40 hours of unedited videotape. Both men were 43 when they died. Peter Friedman (a former student of Joslin) finished shooting,
and then edited, the work, incorporating footage of the couple from BLACKSTAR: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CLOSE FRIEND, a television documentary which Joslin had produced in 1976 about his coming out as a homosexual and his relationship with Massi.
Remarkably eloquent statements about love, loss, suffering, anger, and death surface in this filmed record of the daily routines and thoughts of two men. They are seen struggling with the physical and emotional challenges of living with a fatal disease and the frustration of maintaining routines
once considered simple. A walk in the park or a trip to the market saps their energy. Joslin says, "The simplest five-minute task, and you have to go back to the car, put the seat back and rest and catch a breath. What a way to live, what a way to die." The staggeringly harsh physical toll taken
by AIDS is painfully evident, as constant visits to doctors reveal more Kaposi's sarcoma lesions and the virus leaves both men progressively emaciated and enfeebled. "I have the added fear," says Massi, "[that] if he dies ... that leaves me alone with AIDS, to die by myself with AIDS." Massi's
fear was realized: he was left, grieving for his lover, to die by himself. SILVERLAKE LIFE ends, heartbreakingly, with a scene from BLACKSTAR of a healthy Tom and Mark dancing spiritedly together.
Remarkably, SILVERLAKE LIFE never feels like a story about a disease; it's rather a story about the transcendent power of love. The depiction of the physical effects of AIDS is graphic, and episodes of discrimination and misunderstanding are sometimes infuriating (Joslin's death certificate reads
"Never Married," despite a 22-year relationship). What shines through, however, is the intensity and depth of the relationship, as well as the humor and casual courage with which Massi and Joslin face the disease.
Winner of more than 10 international awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, SILVERLAKE LIFE is a film of extraordinary boldness and honesty. It is deeply sad, but not depressing--it never feels didactic or mawkish. Ultimately, it's a beautifully crafted love story
and a dramatic reminder of friends gone and those who are sick or at risk. The film was released to home video in 1994; a portion of the proceeds of the sale of each video is donated to benefit the home care of AIDS patients. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: SILVERLAKE LIFE: THE VIEW FROM HERE is a profoundly moving video diary of a couple living with AIDS. It combines a tender love story with an uncompromising look at the brutality of the disease. Tom Joslin and Mark Massi lived together for 22 years. When… (more)