Love! Valour! Compassion!

Director: Joe Mantello
Screenwriters: Terrence McNally

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Love! Valour Compassion! tells the story of eight gay friends who gather to love, laugh, and care for one another over the course of three summer holiday weekends at a remote country house in Dutchess County in upstate New York. The house is actually the first character you meet in the film, and it plays its role with beauty and grace, serving as a safe haven for the friends to shed their “other” lives, romp in the sun and water, eat great meals, renew some sexual urges and try to squelch others, and cope with the factors that both tear at them and keep them together. One presence they must all deal with (although it’s the one word not allowed to be spoken on the premises) is AIDS and its effect on their group. In short, at this home away from home, they can get on with the business of living.

Honored with more awards and nominations than any other play of the 1995 Broadway season, including winning the Tony for best play, Love! Valour! Compassion! is a beautifully crafted work by Terrence McNally that is infused with his trademark humor, wit, and wisdom. Although the film is unflinching at times, human dignity is never far from its core: McNally’s characters are family as much as friends. Joe Mantello, who directed the stage version, makes his directorial film debut with style and artistry. The pace is quick, and the humor and pathos sometimes spark in nearly the same moment, tempting you to ride the emotional crests.

Much of the success of the film can be attributed to something rarely seen these days: to Mantello’s credit, he has brought along most of the original cast. Love! Valour! Compassion! represents ensemble acting at its best. The finely tuned performances reveal an obvious deep understanding of the piece and contribute the one imperative ingredient: a total realization of the personal relationships. In modern relationships, love is generally a given prerequisite, but valour and compassion are sometimes sadly lacking. The men in Love! Valour! Compassion! discover they have all three, making this film a tribute to the power of the human spirit.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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