Ignorance is Painful

Molly Ringwald in Fatal Love (1992) (aka: Something to Live for: The Alison Gertz)

Invited to a school to speak Ali Gertz (Molly Ringwald - Pretty in Pink) tells them her story starting back in the summer of 88 when she suddenly falls sick. Admitted to hospital she is submitted to one test after another all coming back negative till finally she is diagnised with PCP caused by Aids, a test they didn't bother to do because Ali was not a drug user or gay. It's a shock to her system as she has to face living with Aids and an eye opener to the whole situation from how people treat her to the common misconception that Aids is a disease of drug users and homosexuals. But it leads her to become an activist in educating people about the truth about Aids.

It is over 20 years since "Fatal Love" was made, a movie based on the true story of Ali Gertz who died in August 1992 just 4 months after this made for TV movie was first aired, and watching it now is a painful experience. It is painful in 2 and a bit ways starting with watching the hell of Ali's life dealing with Aids, the sickness, the lack of knowledge when it comes to treatment and so on. This is also where the "bit" comes in because to show how confusing it is for Ali, the moments of hallucinations and so on it does get a bit out there, a bit cheesy. But it highlights the stages of Aids and how it was like for the individual on a medical level.

Lee Grant and Martin Landau in Fatal Love (1992) (aka: Something to Live for: The Alison Gertz)

But watching it now there is a much more painful side and that is highlighting the ignorance of the time. There are the well known elements such as a friend going to use the same glass as Ali but recoiling as well as the misconception that it is a disease of homosexuals and junkies. But there are the more hard hitting moments of ignorance such as nurses in ER fearful of touching Ali because she has Aids and the fact that because Ali wasn't a druggie or gay meant she didn't have the tests immediately. There is also a painful scene featuring Ali having safe sex with her boyfriend who she discovers in the middle of the night showering and vigorously scrubbing his whole body including his mouth. It is also a painful scene as at the time the idea of "double-bagging" when using condoms seemed okay when in truth it is now known this can cause more risks.

Part of the reason why "Fatal Love" is still painful is because of the casting especially with Molly Ringwald in the role of Ali because we instantly feel for her. But it is not just Ringwald as the other casting such as Martin Landau as Lee Grant as Ali's supportive parents are perfect. On the subject of Lee Grant she delivers one of the movies most powerful scenes involving the ignorant treatment in hospital when she microwaves blankets to try and keep Ali warm because the nurses won't do anything.

What this all boils down to is that "Fatal Love" is a powerful movie which in fact I believe is more powerful now as it highlights the ignorance of the 80s and early 90s.

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