If you don’t know who Larry Kramer is, it’s about time you did. The outspoken (read: insanely enraged) activist was a bubbling catalyst for, not simply, the gay rights movement but stemming the horrific tidal wave of death that came with the AIDS epidemic. Larry Kramer in Love and Anger is in in-depth account of Kramer’s life and the insurgence of AIDS in the 80’s and 90’s.
The most upsetting thing about Jean Carlomusto’s intimate exploration is how alone Kramer was. At the height of the gay communities’ sexual revolution, Kramer’s fiery condemnation of promiscuous behaviour (check his controversial book ‘Faggots’) was seen as an act of self-loathing, not an attempt to hold the phone whilst AIDS was better understood. Carlomusto calls upon Kramer’s life-long co-workers and fellow community members to toot the horn and celebrate a man who saw homosexuality as condemned by overt sexualisation. It’s fair point: why are gay men consistently considered more promiscuous than heterosexuals? Why does the status quo accept a lifestyle encapsulated by, as Kramer spits, ‘asses and dicks’?
If anything Carlomusto’s biopic isn’t just about cementing Kramer in the public mind, but readdressing the original issues and looking back over the past 20 years of sexuality politics. In Love and Anger is about checking up on where we are, and reminding people how disgracefully a community was treated at the height of a plague (Kramer refuses to dilute the virus with the term epidemic) that killed hundreds of thousands.
It’s a stirring piece of work that lauds the life of an incredible man still currently battling his own HIV-related problems, but if there’s one gripe its that we don’t get enough time with Kramer now. His exit from hospital at the documentary’s finale seems rushed and shoehorned into an otherwise well considered examination that will be premiered on HBO in June.
Endearingly woven together through photographic essays, clips of fierce public appearances, and interviews with then-combatants-turned-allies, Carlomusto might just introduce you to one of the most important figures of American socio-politics in the past 50 years.
Dir: Jean Carlomusto
Stars: Larry Kramer