The melodramatic wheels spin and soon fall off the lumbering “One Life,” a dubious, contrived, cautionary tale about the hazards of not facing up to the facts about HIV. Underneath the somewhat fading topicality of sexually transmitted disease in the black community is just another example in a long line of African-American-made pics depicting men as screw-ups and their women as long-suffering. Tyro helmer Carl Seaton can’t seem to coax genuine emotions out of his uneasy cast, but it’s his script (co-written by lead Kenny Young) that sabotages the best intentions. After a solid fest run last year, pic’s limited region-by-region theatrical release will be a mere precursor to vid shelf life.
Varon (Young) and Kiya (Saadiqa Muhammed) are to be married in a week, but Varon’s rosy scenario is so upended that it seems like Somebody Up There doesn’t like him. First, his pal Tyco (Eric Lane) is overstaying his welcome in their digs; his job situation is full of corporate minefields; and his name appears on a list of men who have possibly been infected with HIV. Varon’s bad fortune appears total, making a tacked-on happy ending especially false.