FATAL LOVE, or SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR: THE ALISON GERTZ STORY. (1992) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

FATAL LOVE, or SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR: THE ALI GERTZ STORY. (1992) BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. WRITTEN BY DEBORAH JOY LEVINE. DIRECTED BY TOM MCLOUGHLIN.

STARRING MOLLY RINGWALD, LEE GRANT, MARTIN LANDAU, PERRY KING AND GEORGE COE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Ali, Darren died three years ago of AIDS. I thought you knew.’

I think I remember seeing this one on the television in the ‘90s. It’s one of those really good, made-for-tv early AIDS movies that came out in the ‘90s when, from what I recall, we were still a long way from knowing everything there is to know about the horrible disease known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Molly Ringwald, queen of the Brat Pack, does an excellent job playing pretty little rich girl, Ali Gertz, who develops AIDS from a one-night-stand with a handsome, long-haired bartender called Darren who sleeps around big-time.

The reason everyone’s so shocked that Ali gets AIDS is that she’s not a gay man hanging around the notorious bath-houses or a homeless drug addict begging on the streets. She belongs to a group of people that doctors didn’t realise could get AIDS at first… the heterosexuals.

In fact, Ali is young, white, rich, female, heterosexual, the pampered child of rich parents, Carol and Jerry, all living happily living in their fabulous Park Avenue apartment. The world is her oyster. She can do anything, go anywhere, have anyone. She’s a very privileged young lady indeed.

When Ali is fifteen or sixteen, however, she goes through a bit of a wild child phase. She sleeps with a bisexual bartender at Studio 54, and then seven years later, after being struck down by a mystery illness, is told by her family doctor, not that she is HIV-positive, but that she already has full-blown AIDS.

She’s devastated. So are her parents, her much older boyfriend Mark and her friends. One female friend, Tracy, can’t get her head round the fact that she, as Ali’s partner in crime in the boozing, drugging and sleeping around, could just as easily have been the one who got AIDS. Ashamed but unable to act any differently, Tracy jumps ship, as does Mark, Ali’s boyfriend, who can’t stomach the idea of having sex with a woman who has AIDS.

Another friend of Ali’s, a gay guy called Peter, chides Ali for never having paid any attention to AIDS until she gets it herself. Where was she when Peter was a terrified wreck, having lost half his friends to the deadly disease the whole way through the ‘Eighties?

Now it’s Ali’s turn to feel ashamed, but she more than makes up for it, I think, by becoming an AIDS activist and presenting herself as ‘the face of AIDS’ to the kind of people who need to hear it most, heterosexual, sexually active school-going teenagers who all think that AIDS doesn’t apply to them. By saying to them, look at me, I didn’t think it applied to me either, she stands a very good chance of getting through to them.

Bernie Siegel, American writer, inspirational speaker, retired paediatric surgeon and the author of LOVE, MEDICINE AND MIRACLES, is the catalyst that turns Ali’s attitude towards her illness to positivity rather than negativity and apathy. She attends one of his seminars on illness and healing, and comes out of it with renewed hope and energy.

The thing she finds hardest to come to terms with is the fact that, as she’s got full-blown AIDS, she may now never experience what it feels like to be a wife and mother. She’s been loved and spoiled and pampered her whole life. She can’t bear the thought of never again being touched in love by a man she cares for.

Ali paints a horrible but accurate picture to her parents about what she can ‘look forward to,’ AIDS-wise, in her ‘future.’ The terrified parents, Jerry and Carol, react by tearing strips off each other and playing the ‘Blame Game.’

‘It’s all your fault! You never disciplined her! You spoiled her, you still do!’

It’s true that a fifteen-year-old should not have been allowed to drink alcohol at Studio 54, to take drugs and have one-night-stands. But the Gertz family paid the highest price for it, so I’ll hold the lecture. There but for the grace of God go any of us, anyway.

It says at the end of the film that Alison Gertz is still talking to people about her experience and inspiring them with her amazing courage and positivity. Then I looked up the date of her death online. 1992, just four months after the release of the film. Well done, Molly Ringwald, for a terrific performance, and rest in peace, Ali Gertz. You’ve earned it.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
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