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The Cure Review

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Dexter, age 11, who has AIDS, and his next door neighbor Eric, a little older and much bigger, become best friends.

★★★★★

Not, as the title might tantalisingly suggest, a biopic of a Goth band famed for misapplied lipstick, this is instead
a Stand By Me-ish coming-of-age picture with a grim 90s twist.
Erik (Renfro) is a basically good kid with an abusive midday tippler of a mother (Diana Scarwid) and a mild attitude problem. Dexter (Mazzello) is his diminutive neighbour, with a loving parent (Sciorra) and AIDS. Lonely Erik befriends him, much to the horror of his own ignorant, prejudiced mother.
After a cursory viewing of Medicine Man, the kids — both cute but neither particularly bright — set sail for New Orleans on a raft made of inner-tubes, and the miracle cure for AIDS they’ve read about in a tacky tabloid. Needless to say, their hunt is picturesque if fruitless, and it all ends amid a mass of tubeage and machines that go ping in an intensive-care ward.
For the first hour this is a pleasantly unsentimental look at the virtues of friendship and tolerance, skilfully helmed by thirtysomething’s Horton, before plunging into TV movie malady-of-the-moment country, dumping delicate characterisation for an all-out ruthless assault on the tear ducts. Which is a pity, since it sells short fine turns from the two pre-teens. Mazzello — last seen in The River Wild — is sweet enough, but it is Renfro who lights up the screen, delivering an astonishingly measured performance and showing the same talent for taking mawkish dialogue and investing it with a startling sincerity that marked out the early career of River Phoenix. No world-beater, but if you’re on for a self-indulgent weep, this should more than fit the bill

A Stand By Me for the 90s.