Friday, February 26, 2021

With IT'S A SIN, Russell T. Davies scores another all-round smash via his moving and joyous AIDS-hits-the-Brits series


Of course you'll expect to be greatly moved and saddened by any film or series exploring the effects of AIDS on the characters with whom you've come to be involved. What you may not initially expect from IT'S A SIN -- the latest first-rate entertainment and thought-provoker created and written by Russell T. Davies (Years and Years, A Very English Scandal, Banana, Torchwood, Doctor Who, and Queer as Folk, among so many others) -- is the out-and-out joy and delight you'll experience from being in the company of these lovely, funny, full-bodied folk.

Mr. Davies -- pictured center left, with his leading cast members, left to right, Lydia West, Olly Alexander, Nathaniel Curtis, Omari Douglas and series standout Callum Scott-Howells as Colin, whose character is the quietest, saddest (because he only just beginning to form) and whose halting, hopeful performance is very close to perfection --  has again done what he does so well: come up with a concept and characters who grab us from the outset and, for all their change, growth and bad decisions, never let us go and, in the process, give us not merely entertainment (in spades yet!) but the glorious and profound sense of life as it was and is.

No secret nor surprise that Davies' interests lie with the LGBT crowd, yet how he captures parents, straight friends, doctors, hospital workers, police and society at large is as filled with caring, anger and understanding -- as are his assessments of the gay community.  (That's Keeley Hawes, above, right, playing Alexander's character's mom, in a fraught scene toward the series' finale.)

Davies sees his people as never fully formed but still growing, learning and changing, even as they stumble, fall and rise again. Or sometimes not. In the large and splendid cast are luminaries such as Neil Patrick Harris (above, playing a mentor to young Colin) and the great Stephen Fry (below, left) as one in the country's subservient, bent-but-closeted, right-wing political class.

never imagined he would care to return to those awful years of AIDS deaths, yet films like the recent French César winner, Beats Per Minute, and now this British series, have thoroughly disabused him of that notion. God damn, but these characters can sure have a grand old time! And Davies, with the help of his sterling cast, makes sure that we -- despite all our caring and crying and recalling -- have a grand and memorable one, too. 

Now streaming via HBO Max in five episodes that you can view one after another, no waiting period between them, It's a Sin will certainly end up on a lot of Best-of-Year lists, I should think. 

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