Empty9-11 p.m. Monday, June 25
The Lifetime original telefilm "Girl, Positive" should give teenage girls and their parents a good dose of reality concerning HIV, which health professionals in this country still regard as an epidemic. The story of a teen who fears that she might be infected with HIV is told in a straightforward, no-nonsense way and benefits from a cast that is believable all the way.
The story revolves around two women, a teenager named Rachel (Andrea Bowen) and her substitute teacher, Sarah (Jennie Garth). Rachel becomes alarmed when a boy she has slept with dies from AIDS complications; she fears that she might be infected with HIV. The only person she can really talk to is her substitute teacher, Sarah, who, wouldn't you know, already is infected but until now has kept it a secret from most people. Sarah gets Rachel to go to a free clinic to volunteer -- and to get tested.
The story pulls a few punches in its no-frills story line. In addition to two sympathetic actresses who take the lead, we also are treated to S. Epatha Merkerson, who has a thankless role as Sarah's friend who oversees the free clinic. Unfortunately, Merkerson has to put up with dialogue shot full of "supporting girlfriend" cliches, but she's effective nonetheless.
Nancey Silvers' script is down-to-earth and dramatic enough to overcome material that otherwise could have seemed pedantic. Director Peter Werner keeps the characters moving and looking authentic.
David Beatty's editing also helps to keep the story moving, giving it a good pace and rhythm. Richard Marvin's music offers the right mood as well. The story easily could have become bogged down by the weight of its serious subject, but fortunately for its viewers, this never happens.
"Girl, Positive" is successful because it keeps the delicate balance of "message" movie and drama in tow and never lets us down. What we get is a fine dramatic re-enactment of some very real and very worrisome statistics in this country: Half of all new HIV infections occur in people 25 and younger.
Von Zerneck/Sertner Films for Lifetime Television
Director: Peter Werner
Teleplay: Nancey Silvers
Executive producers: Robert Sertner, Frank von Zerneck, Nancey Silvers
Co-executive producer: Peter Werner
Producer: Randy Sutter
Line producer: Chris Morgan
Associate producer: Laurence Ducceschi
Director of photography: Neil Roach
Production designer: Jim Gelarden
Costume designer: Jillian Kriener
Music: Richard Marvin
Editor: David Beatty
Casting: Susan Glickman
Sarah: Jennie Garth
Rachel: Andrea Bowen
Ariel: S. Epatha Merkerson
Tim: Nathan Anderson