Movie: Still I Reach For You
Director: Victor A Janusz
“Still I Reach For You” is a poignant and emotionally charged film that masterfully captures the depths of regret and lost love against the backdrop of the devastating AIDS outbreak. With its heartfelt storytelling, strong performances, and poignant themes, it leaves a lasting impact on the audience, resonating with anyone who has experienced the complexities of love and the weight of missed opportunities. Directed with sensitivity and compassion by Victor A Janusz, this movie takes viewers on a powerful journey through heartache, remorse, and ultimately, self-discovery.
Set in Seattle in 2018, the film follows 59-year-old Victor, who feels haunted by recollections of his life partner, who passed away in ‘the Plague’ of the year 1993. Victor goes back to the steps of his whirlwind relationship, and he is struggling to date again. His frequent trips to his dedicated doctor only serve to exacerbate flashbacks to his lost love and younger self. Victor gains a new perspective on a scar that he must constantly learn to accept – and live with – through music. What makes the movie stand out is its ability to explore the intricacies of regret and lost love in a nuanced and authentic manner. The screenplay carefully balances the tender moments of affection and passion with the poignant aftermath of heartbreak. It delves into the complex emotions that arise when one reflects on the choices they have made and the path not taken. In his movie, “Still I Reach For You” , Janusz shows an ability to humanise the characters and evoke a range of emotions. The raw and heartfelt performances by the lead actors draw us into their world, allowing us to empathise with their struggles, desires, and the profound sense of loss they carry. The screenplay gracefully explores the complexities of their relationship, skillfully intertwining flashbacks with present-day narratives to illuminate the full spectrum of their shared experiences.
The script, unquestionably the film’s strongest suit, is equal parts sentimental, darkly comedic, and journalistic, documenting a gay couple’s journey through the outbreak of AIDS while simultaneously dealing with the sole-surviving member’s existing life, as he deals with dating again, survivor’s guilt, and the bittersweet recollections of love in days of the epidemic. The story, though primarily heartbreaking, is told in portions that range from harshly genuine and heart-breaking to surreal and facetiously funny, alternating between the 1990s and the present day. Overall, the film is responsive and thoughtful in its treatment of grief, PTSD, and the subtleties regarding the homosexual relationships both then and now.
The cinematography and production design of the film deserve special mention. The evocative visuals and atmospheric settings transport us to the past, effectively capturing the nostalgic ambiance of bygone days. The careful attention to detail enhances the authenticity of the film, immersing us in the characters’ lives and intensifying the emotional impact of their journey.
If there is one minor drawback to the film, it is that certain narrative elements might feel predictable or familiar to those well-versed in the romance genre. However, the strength of the performances and the heartfelt exploration of regret and lost love overshadow any concerns of predictability. Adam Michael Waldo and Victor A. Janusz both pour their hearts out to portray Victor and their performances create a sense of longing for the lost in the audience.
The film doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of the AIDS outbreak, presenting an unflinching portrayal of the era’s fear, stigma, and discrimination. It delves into the emotional toll inflicted upon both the individuals who lived through it and the wider community affected by the epidemic. By doing so, “Still I Reach For You” serves as a reminder of the collective pain and resilience that defined that era, shedding light on the struggle and courage required to confront such a devastating crisis.