‘Fire Island’

A feelgood dramedy as two best friends hit Fire Island for their annual week-long summer vacation.

Heading out of New York for the legendary gay holiday Mecca, Noah (Joel Kim Booster – Unplugging, TV’s Loot) is determined to find love for his best friend, Howie (Bowen Yang – Isn’t It Romantic, TV’s Saturday Night Live). But with so many distractions, staying focussed on his mission is not so easy as both the sexy hunk Dex (Zane Phillips – TV’s Partner Track, Legacies) and the uptight Californian lawyer, Will (Conrad Ricamora – TV’s How to Get Away With Murder, The Resident) are more than interested in Noah himself.

Lightweight and stereotypical with lots of camp frippery and machismo, Fire Island, directed by Andrew Ahn (Spa Night, Driveways), is enjoyable queer Asian American storytelling – but instantly forgettable.

Rating: 52%

‘The Normal Heart’

Angry and outspoken, Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight, Foxcatcher) confronts politicians, journalists and members of the gay community as HIV/AIDS decimates New York.

A semi-autobiographical narrative from writer Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart follows the virus from its early days as a ‘gay cancer’ as it spreads through a community defined by its sexual liberation and the body-beautiful hedonism of Fire Island. A desperate appeal by Dr. Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts – Erin Brockovich, Closer) finds an ear with Weeks who finds his aggressive awareness approach alienates as much as convinces. But the deaths continue and behaviour remains unchanged.

An early Ryan Murphy (Hollywood, Pose), it’s confronting and unflinching as Weeks crusades against indifferent politicians in denial of the crisis. An incendiary Ruffalo, quietly and sensitively supported by Roberts, sees his world fall apart.

Rating: 80%