Life Support

 
HIV and drug drama gritty teen-parent viewing.
  • Review Date: January 8, 2008
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Ana works hard to redeem herself after a young life of drug use and manipulating her family. Her family doesn't forgive her. Family members express anger at having been seriously hurt by their drug-addicted family members. Amare's sister Tanya lets him be homeless. Tanya talks about stealing baby supplies at age 13 to take care of Amare when her parents were too high to do it.

Violence

A main character dies (off-screen) from complications of HIV. Ana talks about wanting to kill herself and her boyfriend after finding out her HIV status. A man shoots and kills his wife, presumably after he finds out her HIV status. Michael threatens to have Ana killed.

Sex

Lots of talk about sex and contracting HIV, including images of female condoms, talk about rolling a condom on with one's mouth, and talk about dental dams. Ana and Slick kiss and it's implied that they had sex. Amare talks about having different boyfriends. Ana hands out condoms to her daughter's boyfriend. Lots of talk about reasons women don't ask their boyfriends or husbands to wear a condom. Ana visits a gay club and shows the "down low" lifestyle of black men who are in the closet, living with wives and children while having sex with men.

Language

Considerable swearing, including "ass," "bulls--t," "s--t," "f--k," "bitch-ass," "hell," "dammit," "asshole," and the "N" word.

Consumerism

Everyone drinks Dasani water and women talk about and show Reality Female Condoms.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of talk about previous drug use -- injecting heroin and cocaine, as well as smoking crack -- and its effect on people's lives. Amare smokes cigarettes. Amare sells his HIV anti-wasting drugs to make money to buy drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie deals in a realistic way with the effect of drug addiction and HIV diagnosis. As such, teenager Amare manipulates friends, steals from people who take care of him, and sells his HIV medications to make money for drugs. There are several scenes of him passed out and very ill from living on the street and the effects of HIV. A main character dies from the disease by the end of the movie. There's also considerable graphic discussion of drug addiction and how it destroys families, as well as discussions of sex and condom use.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Queen Latifah plays Ana, an HIV-positive 30-something mother living in Brooklyn and trying to protect other African-American women from getting the disease. But it's harder for her to use her head when it comes to her own family. Now married, she's created a happy home for her younger daughter Kim. But her older daughter Kelly and her mother haven't yet forgiven Ana for the pain she caused with her drug addiction. When Kelly comes to Ana for help finding her HIV-positive friend Amare, who's homeless and left his medications at Kelly's house, Ana uses the situation to try to get close to her daughter, all while exploring the world of closeted black men.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Unlike HIV fairy tales like the groundbreaking Philadelphia, there's nothing romantic about the HIV-positive hero in HBO's mesage-heavy drama LIFE SUPPORT. Ana is real -- and that means she has to cope with the wreckage of her past as a drug fiend. It takes more than good works for Ana to gain back the trust and love of those she's hurt.

Anyone who's dealt with an addicted family member will relate to this story. And anyone who's ever had a teenage child will relate to Ana's desperation to stay close to Kelly as she rolls her eyes, cocks her head, and recoils from her mom. It's heartbreaking, real, and offers the rare film portrait of an HIV-positive person who becomes a role model.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about a number of tough topics here including safe sex and drug addiction. Do you know anyone who has a drug addict in his or her family? How has it affected them? Are they angry like Ana's and Amare's families? How is the depiction of the HIV epidemic different in this movie than in others, like Philadelphia? What are the differences between how Andy Beckett deals with his HIV status and how Ana deals with it?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 8, 2007
DVD release date:August 7, 2007
Cast:Anna Deavere Smith, Queen Latifah, Wendell Pierce
Director:Nelson George
Studio:HBO
Genre:Drama
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:NR
MPAA explanation:Not rated

This review of Life Support was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byElizabethP 4 June 9, 2015
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