Movie Review: Jeffrey

by Julianna Mather

A film that actually speaks to the audience in more ways than one,
Jeffrey engages the sense of humor and anxieties of the 1990's
audience. The title character, played by Wings costar Steven Weber,
has become disenchanted with relationships and sex in the face of
AIDS. His life is further complicated by the possibility of love with
the HIV-positive Steve (Mike T. Weiss). The movie details the modern
ways in which Jeffrey tries to deal with his own life and fear of
death.
	The screenplay, written by Paul Rudnick, is a witty reflection
on the ways in which our society comes to terms with
ourselves. Jeffrey searches for the meaning of life and death in
today's society by visiting a twelve-step program, a Catholic priest,
and a post-modern televangelist. While showing Jeffrey the path as the
post-modern evangelist, Debra, Sigourney Weaver gives one of her more
satisfying performances. Her pseudo-psychology and opinions on acrylic
show the banal nature of today's self-help methods. Although, on
the surface each of the methods that Jeffrey chooses appear to show
the pitfalls of our society, they are not entirely without merit. When
Debra tells him that evil is the absence of love, Jeffrey realizes
that this is the truth that he has been looking for.
	What prevents Jeffrey from being a great movie is the fact
that one cannot always empathize with the title character. When
Jeffrey's friend Sterling (Patrick Stewart) tells him that he is "the
saddest person," one must agree with him. For most of the movie,
Jeffrey is unable to act. Although his musings are understandable, his
constant state of indecision is not. Most of his thoughts are occupied
with his attempts to escape. He runs away from a memorial service, and
he even attempts to run away from the city by escaping to
Wisconsin. Steven Weber's portrayal of Jeffrey does show a
sensitive character, but at the same time he is a light character. The
elements of humor which make this film so entertaining sometimes get
in the way of the audience's ability to empathize with the
character.
	Still this movie is worth seeing. The guest performances by
Olympia Dukakis and Sigourney Weaver and Patrick Stewart's portrayal
of Sterling are not to be missed. The juxtaposition of the opposing
forces of Jeffrey's humor and the trials of his life is not always
successful, but the movie is still refreshing.  

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