ABC (Sun., March 29, 9 P.M. ET)
The young woman tells an auditorium full of New York City high schoolers: “I was a white, 22-year-old, heterosexual female from a good family living on the Upper East Side. I never used intravenous drugs. I wasn’t promiscuous. I never had a blood transfusion. No way I had AIDS. No way.”
She was wrong. This movie vividly dramatizes the story of Gertz, who believes she contracted AIDS from a onetime fling, at 16, with a bartender from the notorious Manhattan disco Studio 54. (Gertz was the subject of a July 30, 1990, PEOPLE cover story. For a look at her life today, see page 59.)
As Gertz, Molly Ringwald gives a richly nuanced performance, fighting through denial, anger and the other stages of impending mortality until she finds courage in adversity. Ringwald is supported by one of the season’s strongest casts, including Lee Grant, Martin Landau, Perry King, Roxana Zal, George Coe and Peter Spears.
Director Tom McLoughlin frames the story in an engrossing fashion, jumping back and forth in time. Using tints, smoke and echoes, he also manages to evoke the fevered state of serious illness. Rarely is a cautionary tale told so artfully.