Life Support

With the release of Life Support, officially selected in the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, HBO Films further establishes itself as the go-to location for powerful actors looking for solid, unflowery, unapologetically good films. Following in the tradition of Geoffrey Rush and Charlize Theron in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley in Mrs. Harris, Queen Latifah has become a part of the tradition of excellence with her turn as HIV positive AIDS activist Ana Wallace.

In the deeply personal and profoundly moving film based on the life of writer/director George Nelson’s sister Andrea Williams, Queen Latifah not only has the opportunity to help explore the effect of the HIV/AIDS crisis on the African-American community, but to display her tremendous acting talent along the way. As Ana Wallace, Latifah has never been more human, more endearing, or more inspiring. Equal parts stubborn selfishness and selfless activist, Latifah portrays Wallace (and the real-life Williams, who makes an appearance in the film herself) as a real woman with real problems, who learns to rise above it all in order to help herself and her family.

Using real people in key group discussion scenes, Nelson gives his film an almost documentary feel, and the strong performances from Anna Deavere Smith as Wallace’s stern but loving mother, Wendell Pierce as her supportive and honest husband, and Rachel Nicks as her estranged daughter make the screen crackle with emotion and energy. Darrin Dewitt Henson (of Darrin’s Dance Grooves) even steps in for a surprisingly powerful turn as a hotheaded record producer. Throughout the film, no actor misses a beat. Either the casting director should be thanked profusely for such ideal casting, or Nelson just has a special knack for getting exactly the right performance out of each of his actors.

The acting is phenomenal, the story is moving and engaging, and the backdrop of the Brooklyn streets never fails to deliver. In short, Life Support is a triumph on all accounts. Latifah will doubtless be looking at some nominations for this role and perhaps she’ll begin to be offered the kind of roles her talent truly deserves. In George Nelson’s video diary (included on the disc), viewers can clearly see his mood and feelings towards the film changing and growing as the film progresses and each scene is captured on film. Audiences will feel much the same way as they watch the film head towards its dramatic and poignant conclusion.

To purchase Life Support on DVD (out August 7th) visit Amazon

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