Filmmakers have found the right blend of humor and pathos,
longing and loss in The Unknown Cyclist, an original film from Starz! that will
debut just prior to the 12th annual World AIDS Day.
The plot focuses on the most important people in the life
of AIDS victim Christopher Cavetelli -- his twin brother, a homophobic New York cop named
Frank (Vincent Spano); his best friend, Gaetano (Danny Nucci); his ex-wife, Melissa (Lea
Thompson); and his ex-lover, Doug (Stephen Spinella).
Although the characters are common archetypes, the script
gives them a real shot at honest emotions, and each actor takes them and runs -- or,
The late Chris has signed up each of his smoking, slacker
loved ones as participants in the annual 450-mile West Coast AIDS ride. During the course
of the ride, they learn that they are to scatter a portion of Chris' ashes, provided
to them in rather profane, latex containers. Each is to select the site based on their own
epiphany as they come to terms with Chris' loss.
The story could become mired in smarmy platitudes, gallows
humor or rage, but the screenplay -- by Howard Skora, Betsy Pool and Matthew Carlisle --
instead builds a complete structure of the survivors' reactions.
The twin thing is a great gambit, as the distant Frank is
able to sample a bit of life in Chris' shoes when ride participants mistake him for
Chris, who had been a strong counselor to many while unsupported himself.
The producers also make good use of a couple of great
cameos by the great Holland Taylor, who, in a single scene, sums up what it means for a
survivor to finally be able to let go and live, and by Lanie Kazan, who plays Doug's
Although the four end up in a Hollywood happy place, most
of the drama rings true. The film is definitely worth your time. Watch it and count your
The Unknown Cyclist debuts on Starz! Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.