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Art and Understanding
The International Magazine of Literature and Art about Aids
Fighting in Southwest Louisiana
Reviewed by Christopher Hewitt
Danny Cooper was a gay mailman in the tiny “redneck” town of Vinton, Louisiana. Much of the movie consists of Danny’s telling the viewer his own story, and an amazing and courageous on it is. Cooper tells of his coming out to his colleagues at the post office; he was fired, got reinstated and subsequently earned the admiration and respect not only of his fellow postal workers, but of the entire community. He lived an openly gay life in Vinton with a lover who died of AIDS and with his then-lover who also talks to the viewer about his feelings for Danny.
The kicker of the film is that we learn near the end is that Danny is dying of AIDS. We have followed him on his postal routes, and witnessed his charismatic and generous personality up close. We have come to like him a good deal so that when we hear he is very ill the news affects us even more deeply. But Danny’s positive and serene attitude to his illness washes away any trace of pity the viewer may have for him. “I’ve always said that—if Life gives you lemons, Make Lemonade. So even if I am going to die, I’m still going to live until I do.” And it’s obvious he lived life to the fullest and loved it even with AIDS. Near the end of the movie Danny talks of his plans to retire to a farm in Arkansas with his lover. I hope he got his wish.
Friedman has created a minor masterpiece with this film. His ability to let the viewer become intimate with his characters is unusually great. Friedman obviously makes his subjects very much at ease during the moviemaking. I for one trust Friedman’s deep integrity and skills and that he will go on to make many more powerful films like this one. See it. And Silverlake Life. They will restore, if not instill, an appreciation for the sheer goodness of some people, people many of us would do well to emulate.