Longtime Companion chronicles the first decade of the AIDS epidemic, with the movie split into sections by year and date. In 1981 Will (Campbell Scott) and his partner John (Dermot Mulroney) spend time with another gay couple, one of whom, Sean, is a screenwriter for a popular soap opera. Meanwhile, Howard (Patrick Cassidy) is preparing to audition for a role in Sean’s show. That morning, The New York Times publishes the first article about a “gay cancer”, and Howard lands the role.
Time goes by, and all of the characters begin to worry more and more about this new sickness. Sean in particular develops some worrying symptoms. This, as well as the onset of sickness in other characters, results in a frantic desire to keep away from each other, as the sickness is still poorly understood. By 1985, Sean develops signs of dementia, and passes away the following year after having been reduced to a shell of his former self. His partner, David, also departs from the earthly realm the next year. In 1988, Howard is diagnosed as HIV-positive, and it’s implied that Paul has succumbed to the disease already. Finally, in 1989, friends of the gay men are walking along the beach, talking about a time before AIDS, with a further implication that even Howard has failed to survive as well.
“Funny, Touching and Vital, Longtime Companion is the best American movie so far this year. It is also, astonishingly, the first major feature to detail the gay community’s battle against the AIDS epidemic.”
— Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Did You Know?
Longtime Companion directed by Norman René was released to universally positive acclaim. The title itself is a reference to the term that newspapers solely used in that time period to refer to a gay partner in obituaries. Many praised the film for its depiction of real issues affecting the gay community, rather than succumbing to typical and saccharine storytelling. Review our Gay Themed Films Here