Get out your handkerchiefs. Though An Early Frost
was made for television in 1985--in the first few years of AIDS awareness and research--it's still as potent and wrenching as more sophisticated efforts that came along a short while later (Philadelphia
, And the Band Played On
, Longtime Companion
). Much of the thanks goes to a stellar cast--Aidan Quinn, Gena Rowlands, and Ben Gazzara--who elevate a familiar, familial tale of conflict that begins when a successful lawyer son (Quinn) comes home to make peace with his enabling, compassionate mother (Rowlands) and disgusted, confused father (Gazzara) who cannot reconcile himself to his son's gay lifestyle.
Director John Erman crafts a stark, wintry movie, its title a metaphor for a life cut short. An Early Frost was lauded for its compassion, and though it seems a little patronizing now after the many films with similar themes and variations, this was the first to bring gay life as something normal into the average living room, and it holds up pretty well. After all, the humanistic, family element is what the film strives to convey, and that theme is always universal. --Paula Nechak
In AN EARLY FROST, it is 1985 and Michael Pierson (Aidan Quinn) is a successful young lawyer in Chicago who has just been made a partner at his law firm. But he lives a double life, keeping his boyfriend a secret from both family and co-workers. Everything changes when he gets sick with pneumonia and is diagnosed with AIDS, forcing him to be open about the disease and his homosexuality for the first time. Back home with his family, they learn to adjust to the son they never knew, and realize that they love him just the same.