The Event Movie Review

Who wouldn't want to have a party before they died? In The Event, Matt Shapiro (Don McKellar), a talented young cello player dying of AIDS, decides to do just that before having his friends and family help him to kill himself. Everyone gets together, blasts music, has champagne, and twirls under the disco ball, wishing Matt a fond farewell into the afterlife. This is all well and good until district attorney Nick (Parker Posey) starts nosing into Matt's death, noting that several of the recently dead people who were under the care of AIDS clinic worker, and Matt's friend, Brian (Brent Carver), died with unusually high amounts of drugs in their system.

Although director and co-writer Thom Fitzgerald sets us up for a mystery at the beginning of the film - Who is Matt? Did he commit suicide? What will Nick find? - the story quickly derails into an extremely sappy and self-indulgent amble through Matt's life, which didn't seem to be terribly interesting. We are given hardly anything of Matt prior to his disease, he is only presented as an AIDS victim, and one particularly prone to flights of self-pity. While The Event is refreshingly candid about many of the particulars of the disease, resisting the melodramatic impulse to keep the more physically unpleasant aspects of it hidden away, it is much less honest and forthcoming about Matt's relationships.

Providing more engaging entertainment than the morosely uninvolving Matt, Olympia Dukakis and Sarah Polley play his mother and sister, respectively. The two of them provide a desperately needed dash of salt to some otherwise blasé scenes in which they either try to avoid Nick's questioning or provide unflinching support to Matt in the flashback scenes that comprise the bulk of the film's final hour. It's a pretty unbearable hour, too, as once any semblance of mystery has been leached from the film, Fitzgerald just tries to wring one more tear from an already exhausted audience. And as good as someone like Dukakis is (a long, silent scene in which she bathes an exhausted Matt is wonderfully affecting), even she can't breathe life into lines like, "In my word, love is above the law."

The Event has a cheap, cruddy look to it; this is the reason that people don't like DV features. It is also cheap in terms of story: by refusing to look beyond Matt's final party to the wider implications of what it signifies, the film removes all contrast from a momentous event, without substituting any meaningful personal interaction to make up for that shortfall. There is some attempt to look into the right of the government to make it illegal for anyone, most especially the terminally ill, to commit suicide, and the briefest mention to these kinds of parties happening more often than anybody would like to admit. But instead of venturing out into this wider terrain, The Event seems content with its own limited horizons.

It's his party, and he'll eat a cookie if he wants to.


adeerfriend's picture


I disagree strongly with this rating. I wish everyone could see thiis film. The pain emotional suffering of Aids is very real and to see the love that surrounded this sweet soul as he left that pain and suffering was tremendously moving. Olympia Dukakis is wonderful as she was in "Tales of the City".****1/2

6 years 3 months ago
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The Event Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: R, 2003


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