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Daybreak

It's sometime in the future, and a major epidemic is decimating the American population. Under pretense of helping the victims, the government is shipping them off to "quarantine," where they are left to die -- and, perhaps, be recycled into Soylent Green. Parallels to the current AIDS crisis are implicit in this adaptation of Alan Bowne's play "Beirut," but as heavy-handed allegories go, "Daybreak" is commendably subtle.

It’s sometime in the future, and a major epidemic is decimating the American population. Under pretense of helping the victims, the government is shipping them off to “quarantine,” where they are left to die — and, perhaps, be recycled into Soylent Green. Parallels to the current AIDS crisis are implicit in this adaptation of Alan Bowne’s play “Beirut,” but as heavy-handed allegories go, “Daybreak” is commendably subtle.

Moira Kelly stars as Blue, a young woman drawn into the Resistance, a group headed by Torch (Cuba Gooding Jr.) whose members defy the police by saving people from quarantine.

Complicating Blue’s fascination for Torch and the Resistance is the fact that her brother Bucky (David Eigenberg) is a member of the Home Guard, a youthful paramilitary outfit.

And then there’s Blue’s friend, Laurie (Martha Plimpton), who seems to be asking a lot of questions …

Everybody keeps a perfectly straight face throughout a plot that’s as old as rebellion against the government, and director-screenwriter Stephen Tolkin keeps the pace up while making commendable use of bombed-out Gotham locations. Tolkin, cinematographer Tom Sigel and production designer Leslie Pope give the whole show a richly desolate look.

Another plus is Michel Colombier’s moody score, with lovely use of Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” and Renee Geyer’s performance of Tony Joe White’s “Out of the Rain,” evidently recorded especially for this film.

On the down side is a loud and echo-laden sound mix that often obscures dialogue.

Kelly, Gooding and Amir Williams (as Torch’s young sidekick) give fine performances; notable too is Alice Drummond as a woman who works both sides of the street, politically speaking.

Partial nudity and language would keep this project (developed, it says, with the aid of the Sundance Institute) off the networks.

Credit of the month goes to Prince M. Jackson as “parking coordinator.”

Daybreak

Sat. (8), 8-9:30 p.m., HBO

  • Production: Filmed in New York City by Foundation Entertainment Prods. in association with HBO Showcase. Executive producers, Kathryn Galan, Colin Callender; producer , John Bard Manulis; director-script, Stephen Tolkin, based on the play "Beirut" by Alan Bowne.
  • Crew: Camera, Tom Sigel; editor, Brunilda Torres; production designer, Leslie Pope; sound, Michael Barosky; music, Michel Colombier.
  • Cast: <B>Cast:</B> Moira Kelly, Cuba Gooding Jr., Martha Plimpton, Omar Epps, Amir Williams, David Eigenberg, Alice Drummond, John Cameron Mitchell, Willie Garson, Mark Boone Jr., Deirdre O'Connell, John Seda, Phil Parolisi, Paul Butler, Alix Koromzay, Charles Cragin, Charles (Soll Food) Mattocks, Spike Alexander, Steven Rodriguez, Nick Chinlund, Janet Paparazzo, Scott Zigler, Billi Vitale, Herminio Vallejo III, Stuart Rudin, D. Garen Tolkin, Skipp Suddeth, Marc B. Galishoff, Phil Nielson, Norman Douglas, Andy Duppin, Nancy Ellen, Joseph S. Fitos, Jeff Gibson, Debbie Greg, Gene Harrison, Don Hewitt, Mick O'Rourke, Lori Petitti, Tierre Turner.
  • Music By: