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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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From: Silver Screen

REVIEW: ‘Spoiler Alert’ is a moving portrait of a love story cut brief by tragedy

REVIEW: ‘Spoiler Alert’ is a moving portrait of a love story cut brief by tragedy
SPOILER_FP_00035_RC Ben Aldridge stars as Kit Cowan and Jim Parsons as Michael Ausiello in director Michael Showalter’s SPOILER ALERT, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features / © 2022 FOCUS FEATURES LLC.

Spoiler Alert” is a beautiful, heart-wrenching romance story about falling in love, finding a second family and living every day like it's your last. Based on Michael Ausiello’s beloved memoir “Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies,” the film follows his 13-year relationship with Kit Cowan, a photographer who died of a rare form of neuroendocrine cancer in 2015.

It is the latest mainstream queer romance film to arrive in theaters this year after “Bros” debuted in September, but don’t expect a similarly hilarious experience. Michael Showalter’s romantic dramedy elicits far more tears than it does laughs.

“Spoiler Alert” stars Jim Parsons as Michael Ausiello and Ben Aldridge as Kit Cowan. Parsons’ Ausiello is a geeky, introverted journalist for TV Guide, perfectly content to work late hours and stay in every night. When his friend drags him out to a gay club, he meets the hunky, charismatic Cowan on the dance floor and decides to finally step outside his comfort zone. 

While Ausiello is hesitant to even remove his shirt, Cowan is suave, confident and comfortable in his skin. The two are a classic case of opposites attracting, and their relationship is the film's beating heart. Unfortunately, just as the couple decides to take a calculated break in their relationship, Cowan begins to experience abdominal pain leading him to receive a devastating terminal cancer diagnosis.

Sally Field and Bill Irwin also play supporting roles as Cowan’s parents. In a light-hearted but poignant scene, Cowan comes out to his parents. Instead of receiving judgment, his mom chastises him for not telling her sooner. The film is chock-full of refreshingly genuine moments. The true story at its core is handled with care, and the filmmakers never compromise by pandering to the audience.

Parsons and Aldridge elevate the film’s relatively surprise-free story with their genuinely magnetic chemistry. Scenes that could have come across as awkward in the hands of less capable performers are enlivened by the hilarious rapport the two characters develop throughout the film. In one comedic highlight, Ausiello invites Cowan back to his place after initially avoiding showing him his apartment due to the Smurfs memorabilia covering every surface.

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The last quarter of the film is sob-inducing, tracking the final stage of Cowan’s life and the last months he shares with Ausiello. Still, this is not a hopeless story. The second family Ausiello finds with Cowan’s supportive, loving parents carries him through the grief of his loss and provides comfort and catharsis for the audience. Even after his husband passes away, Ausiello gains courage, hope and resilience from the years they spent together.

Although the movie opens with Ausiello laying in a hospital bed with Cowan dying beside him, it is far more than just a sob story. It is a celebration of the power of love to persevere in the face of impending tragedy. It is also a welcome addition to the still relatively small list of mainstream gay romances.

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