Watch Early Frost
"Early Frost" is a highly acclaimed, emotionally powerful drama from 1985 that deals with the difficult topic of AIDS. Directed by John Erman and starring such top-notch actors as Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara, and Sylvia Sidney, the movie tells the story of a family whose lives are turned upside down when their son is diagnosed with the disease.
The movie begins by introducing the viewer to the central characters: the loving and supportive Kate (Rowlands) and her husband, Jack (Gazzara), who run their own thriving advertising agency in Chicago. Their son Michael (Aidan Quinn) has recently moved to California to pursue his dream of becoming a writer, but when he comes home to visit for Christmas, he seems different than he used to be. He's skinny, tired, and generally unwell, but refuses to talk about what's bothering him.
It's not until much later that Michael finally reveals the truth: he's been diagnosed with AIDS, a disease that was still highly stigmatized and misunderstood at the time the movie was made. Kate and Jack are devastated by the news, but determined to help their son in any way they can. They take him to various doctors in Chicago, try to come up with alternative treatments, and learn everything they can about a disease that very few people know anything about.
The bulk of the movie deals with the struggles that Michael and his family face as a result of his illness. They're constantly battling against ignorance, fear, and discrimination - even Kate's own mother (played with great relish by Sylvia Sidney) is convinced that AIDS can be caught by touching someone with the disease. But at the same time, Michael's illness also brings out the best in people. Kate's assistant at work (played by Aidan Quinn's real-life sister, Marian) becomes a close friend and ally of the family, and a nurse named Ann (played by Twilight's Kathryn Harrold) goes above and beyond the call of duty in caring for Michael in his final days.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about "Early Frost" is how it manages to be so moving and so enlightening at the same time. The movie never feels preachy or didactic, even though it's clearly trying to educate people about a disease that was still very much in the shadows at the time the movie was made. What makes the movie so effective is the way that it focuses on the human toll of the disease - on the ways that it affects the lives of the people who are diagnosed with it, and the people who love them.
The actors in "Early Frost" are all beyond reproach. Gena Rowlands does some of her best work here as Kate, a woman who's forced to confront her own prejudices and fears in the face of her son's illness. Ben Gazzara is also excellent as Jack, a man who initially tries to ignore Michael's diagnosis but ultimately becomes his biggest supporter. And Aidan Quinn is simply amazing as Michael - he brings a quiet strength and dignity to the role that's truly inspiring.
In the end, "Early Frost" is a must-see movie that's both heartbreaking and uplifting. It's a powerful reminder of how far we've come in our understanding of AIDS - and how far we still have to go. But more than anything, it's a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, and the love that binds families together in times of crisis.