A young ballet protégé with HIV enters a relationship with an aging counsillor.
As long as there is cinema there is dance, and this tale of frugging your heart out under the deadly threat of AIDS may be less effective but has the same give-it-all-gusto as The Band Wagon and Top Hat - with a 90s spin, naturally.
Brilliant protege Tonio, played with flirtatious eye by Flemyng, is diagnosed HIV positive during the break-up of his illustrious dance company. Celebrating a new production on the town, he meets Jack (Sher) - an overweight, alcoholic social worker and their initial differences blossom into a heartfelt relationship while Tonio's company and condition deteriorate rapidly.
The first 20 minutes of this absorbing comedy drama is left pirouetting alone ("there's no rapport" one character notes aptly), but Martin Sherman's bold script soon has the audience rooting for this dysfunctional troupe as they fight it out under the glitter ball. Although the exotic dancing proves to be the hook on which to hang the HIV bait, director Meckler has choreographed a fluid and humorous character study as good as any of Mike Leigh's slices of life.
There are some hilarious interludes that sit well with the looming danger of AIDS, including what must be the stupidest sex scene this year between Tonio and his lesbian dancing partner. Yet the real jewel of the film rests with Sher's achingly realistic performance as the vodka-stained AIDS councillor.
For all its honestly Alive And Kicking - like all HIV-related films - inevitably emerges with the same catchlines and conclusions as the first, and still best, mainstream AIDS movie, Longtime Companion.