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Love! Valour! Compassion!


Love! Valour! Compassion!

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Terrence McNally's Tony Award-winning 1994 play about eight gay men who spend three long summer weekends together comes to the screen in a form that largely allows the rest of the country to see what all the fuss was about. With the exception of Seinfeld's Jason Alexander, stepping in for Nathan Lane, all of Love! Valour! Compassion!'s original cast members reprise their roles, and the comfort of the ensemble greatly helps in translating the inherently stagey, dialogue-heavy material. While director Joe Mantello (who also helmed the stage production) often uses the opened-up space of the movie well, he doesn't always avoid some of the common pitfalls that come with adapting plays. Some otherwise understated moments could have stood up nicely without the original, explanatory dialogue—an element that, while no doubt necessary on the stage, makes moments of the film seem artificially dramatic. Nevertheless, Love! Valour! Compassion! is a good play that's been turned into a good movie. Strong, touching performances—especially Alexander's self-consciously stereotypical drama queen and John Glover's dual role as mirror-image twin brothers—convey the rich and complicated relationships of McNally's characters. It's these performances, the author's knack for sensitive and memorable characterization, and the decision to make a movie about gay men featuring a disco-free soundtrack that make a somewhat flawed film rewarding.