AIDS is never mentioned by name throughout the prickly stories that make up 3 Needles. To push the idea that AIDS is a disease that dares not say its name in many parts of the world, writer-director Thom Fitzgerald’s characters (even the Canadians) refer to the sickness only as “the virus.” Each of these stories is a hissy fit of heinous proportions, one progressively worse than the other: all end on a sickeningly satisfied note of irony, tied together with hectoring narration by Olympia Dukasis that suggests a yuletide story—like Dr. Seuss reading from Randy Shilts. In China, a very-pregnant Lucy Liu runs a blood collection service in a tiny farming village. She’s raped by a group of police but doesn’t seem to bat an eye during the entire episode (all in a day’s work, I suppose), and when she gives birth on the side of the road, her crisis is histrionically contrasted with the death of a farmer’s business-savvy little girl. Is it Fitzgerald’s intent to shoot this madness, including Tong Sam’s search for answers from the government, as if it were part of some Epcot Center diorama? Over in Canada, a cute porn star, Denys (Shawn Ashmore), keeps his condition under wraps by swiping his sick father’s blood while the old man sleeps. It’s downhill from there—or, rather, to the East Side: Denys takes blood from his father one day not knowing the old man is dead, and when his mother, Olive (Stockard Channing), learns of her son’s occupation, she goes to preposterous lengths to make up for her maternal failures. The jokey tone of this story (dubiously titled “The Passion of the Christ”) is insulting, but not quite as reprehensible as Chloë Sevigny putting her Catholic faith to the test in deepest Africa. Sevigny, Sandra Oh, and Dukakis star as nuns dealing with a nightmare that includes dirty needles, tribal superstitions (one man rapes a little girl because he thinks it will cure him of the disease), and a capitalist pig who doesn’t want to share his AZT. That’s only the tip of an iceberg that includes Sevigny selling out her brown bunny, her character tossing a condom to a couple getting their groove on, and a “Kumbaya”-scored group rape. The only thing more insensitive than the film’s pig-pile of melodramas is Fitzgerald’s pessimistic belief that Catholicism is incapable of fighting AIDS. This is obvious in the abuses Sevigny’s character is put through, which makes the inquisition of Madonna’s “Live To Tell” provocation from her Confessions Tour seem almost sensitive by comparison. Madonna’s stunt, and its ensuing controversy, is a reminder of how easily Christians are diverted from the truth, while Fitzgerald’s alleged truth-searching is a bald-faced smear campaign.
- Wolfe Releasing
- 127 min
- Thom Fitzgerald
- Thom Fitzgerald
- Shawn Ashmore, Stockard Channing, Olympia Dukakis, Lucy Liu, Sandra Oh, Chloë Sevigny
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