Silverlake Life began as a film diary by Tom Joslin, a man dying of AIDS along with his partner, Mark Massi. A student of Joslin’s, Peter Friedman, agreed to complete the project if Joslin became too ill to work, or died. The result is a compelling (and rare) cinema verite study of what life with AIDS in the early 1990s was sometimes like.
Mindblowing moments include Mark’s wistful retelling of his doctor’s description of cerebral toxoplasmosis as a legion of tiny bats slowly eating your brain from the stem base up. In another scene, a hotel manager asks Tom to put his shirt back on if he’s going to swim in the pool, as his dozens of angry KS lesions are unsettling the other guests. As the movie progresses, Mark becomes increasingly sick, and is bedridden, shockingly emaciated and semi-comatose for most of the third act.