On A Moonlit Night (aka As Long as It's Love) (1989)

Viewed April 25th


When a journalist who writes about public reactions to HIV/AIDS finds that he has contracted the disease, he goes to drastic lengths to protect his family from contagion and social stigma.

Director Lina Wertmuller effectively conjures a world of 80s Euro bourgeoisie cosmopolitanism in the grips of the AIDS crisis--both in terms of the spread of the disease and the paranoia around it. Indeed from the first scene to the last, the film explores the misinformation that drives fear, not just around HIV/AIDS, but generally. The film calls for an open, adult conversation in order to make the rational decisions necessary to move forward with HIV/AIDS in contemporary society. The way it goes about making this point is to, first, lure the audience into the world I described above and, second, to draw them in deeper through a compelling melodrama plot; it's only then that the film's larger ideas could be transmitted (or spread, like a virus). The stars--Rutger Hauer and Nastassja Kinski--work in conjunction with Wertmuller's savvy portrayal of pan-European culture to achieve the first step. But the plot ends up wildly diverting from reality at a certain point and this ends up alienating the viewer from fully engaging with anything. The whole world of the film seems to fall apart at a certain point, leaving the viewer with nothing to sink into. The result is that the film's message remains that--just a message--rather than a deeper moral position.