Rembrandt Q Pumpernickel’s review published on Letterboxd:
While one can give a lot of reasons to watch a film or to make a film, for me, the overarching one, the one that can encapsulate all of them is to make an audio/visual representation of a voice. To understand the people who made the film a bit better through having watched it, to understand yourself a little bit better through having watched it.
One could level many complaints on a cinematic level at Parting Glances, it was maybe shot on a VHS camera, and no one seems to know what a lighting kit is. Shots often go on longer than they are impactful, and certain parts feel unfocused or extraneous. That is why I give it four stars and the only reason why.
Because as a document or a capturing of a voice, it feels perfect to me in a way few films do. Parting Glances takes place in the 80s in NYC just after AIDS is discovered and beginning to be understood. The story is, ostensibly, about a gay couple, one of whom is leaving for Africa for a job. In the B storyline, Steve Buscemi's character is dying of AIDS and vacillates wildly between moods and feelings. But the storyline, much like the cinematography, seems like merely a vessel for this feeling of a certain group of people at a certain time in history to express themselves. To say, "I'm here. I lived, and I felt, and I will not be made invisible." The film is smart enough and gentle enough to never say anything like that outright, but I felt it as I watched it.
I can't explain exactly why, but this is the exact type of film that I've been looking for. One that takes a marginalized culture and people and doesn't sensationalize them to grab attention, nor belittles them for our amusement. It just lets them speak and be heard.