89 Minute Running Time
Expected to attend: director Chris Mason Johnson.
Test is a visually stunning, beautifully choreographed, well-acted, and powerfully moving story set in the San Francisco modern dance scene of 1985—right before the first HIV test is announced. Newspaper headlines threatened a gay quarantine, nobody knew for certain how the disease spread, and dancers feared touching each other. Frankie (Scott Marlowe) a slender, boyish-looking dancer faces bullying from the choreographer and other dancers: “Dance like a man!” Fellow dancer Todd (Matthew Risch) is much more sexually adventurous and traditionally masculine. The film centers on their budding friendship and the challenges surrounding the emergence of the AIDS virus: fear, coming out, visible markings of the disease, integrating condoms into gay sex, and of course, the challenge of taking the HIV test. Test has breathtaking new choreography by Sidra Bell, original music by Ceiri Torjussen, and lush cinematography showcasing the natural beauty of San Francisco. It boasts dancers from the San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and modern dance companies in San Francisco. Writer-director Chris Mason Johnson deftly uses movement, motion, and music to propel the story forward. An excellent ’80s soundtrack of wellchosen New Wave hits plays through Frankie’s Walkman, helping to both narrate inner monologues and set the time period. Accompanying the recent burst of brilliant documentaries on the AIDS epidemic, Test is an extraordinary story full of nostalgia and wistful memories about a complicated time full of answering machines and rotary phones with their impossibly tangled cords.
— KEVIN SCHAUB
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