Larry Kramer, playwright and activist, has been fighting against backlash, politics, and moral outrage for decades in the name of stopping the AIDS epidemic and spreading LGBT rights. He is about to turn 80 and while life has thrown its share of obstacles at him, as the new HBO documentary ‘Larry Kramer in Love and Anger’ shows, it has not trumped his fiery spirit.
The film takes an intimate and retrospective look at the renowned activist showcasing both his good and bad times. Filmmaker Jean Carlomusto does an excellent job illustrating Kramer as a person, giving viewers a look at what he is like as a man.
It is clear very quickly that Kramer is a passionate and justice-minded individual. He speaks his mind and fights back against perceived wrongs. At times this can make him become almost unlikeable as he seems to go too far, but it is the inclusion of these moments that make this documentary so strong. It shows Kramer as a real person: complex, flawed, and driven.
At one point towards the end of the film there is a scene from 2013 where Kramer and his longtime partner David Webster are married in a hospital room while Kramer recovers from a liver transplant gone awry. There is both a sense of victory and defeat in the scene. They are finally making their lifelong commitment official in some sense, but as Kramer notes in the film they still lack legal protections and there is just so much more to do in the battle against AIDS. Every victory is just a battle on the front of a much bigger war.
It is appropriate that ‘Larry Kramer in Love and Anger’ should air just days after the Supreme Court has ruled that marriage is a fundamental right for all and that states cannot prevent same-sex couples from marrying. While it has been a big victory for many in the LGBT community it is not the final victory. It is individuals like Larry Kramer that attempt to keep the movement on track, and not let it get too caught up in the smaller victories along the way.
‘Larry Kramer in Love and Anger’ is an excellent humanizing look at the famous activist. He may not be perfect, but will fight against perceived injustice until the end, and that is what makes his story so compelling.