Zero Patience Review

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Here's a real oddity, albeit one that strains so hard to be as incredibly strange as possible that it exhudes a certain fringe sensibility smugness. Billed as a "movie musical about AIDS", it's also a free-form cross-time romance and an exercise in camp agit-prop.

Set in modern-day Canada, it has the Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton (Robinson) living as a taxidermist in a museum of natural history. As part of an exhibition about contagion, Burton is putting together a documentary about the so-called Patient Zero, the promiscious gay French Canadian flight attendent sometimes accused of bringing AIDS to North America. Zero's dancing ghost (Fauteux) turns up, visible only to the Victorian, and they have a romantic relationship which prompts him to reassess his own sexuality and beliefs about the disease.

It offers a lot of disparate elements: singing rectums, dancing and ranting lesbian green monkeys, copious male nudity, costumed viruses, a genuinely moving sub-plot about a gay teacher who is slowly going blind, revisionist debunkings of various theories about the origins of AIDS, Pythonesque comedy, an indictment of the callous greed of big drug companies, and enough sincerity to get it through its many shaky spots. A lot of it just doesn't work, though it boasts enough astonishing moments (like gay AIDS activist Michael Callen as a vampish Miss HIV floating in a bloodstream and holding a high note longer than Barbra Streisand can) to make up for its waffly stretches. How much patience you'll have for it is a matter of individual temperament, but you've certainly never seen anything like it.