An Unlikely Friendship
Outstanding performance by Brad Renfro, good message about acceptance and friendship
Contrived to wring tears from viewers
"The Cure" is a Tom-and-Huck type fantasy with an interesting, and poignant, twist - one of the characters has AIDS. It's a tale of friendship, adventure, love, and irrational hatred. It is also, perhaps, Brad Renfro's most brilliant and least-seen performance. Renfro, who can't seem to play anything except thuggy loners and causeless rebels, brings a depth and a sensitivity to the character of Erik, a lonely latch-key bully who befriends Dexter, an 11-year old stricken with AIDS.
Erik has attitude written all over him, mostly in an attempt to cover up his pain over his parents' divorce and the ridicule he deals with because of his Southern accent. Friendless, Erik develops a curiosity about his new neighbor, Dexter. When the two finally meet face to face, Erik overcomes his fear and hostility, and the two boys form a close bond. Erik, whose own mother is never home and appears to have some serious problems, also develops a relationship with Dexter's mother, who loves him just because he is kind to Dexter.
Dexter confides to Erik that it is his hope that a cure for his disease(he contracted it from a blood transfusion as an infant) will be found before he dies. When the boys read about an alleged cure that has been found in the Louisiana bayou, they set off to find the doctor whom they want desperately to believe has the cure. They encounter danger and adventure along the way, and Dexter at last comes to accept the inevitable.
This is a sad film, but a strangely uplifting one. There are some funny moments and witty exchanges of dialogue between the boys. My favorite part is when Erik creates "The Periodic Table of the Candies" in an attempt to find the right combination of junk food as a possible cure. The movie also shows the ignorance and fear of the community at large and of Erik's mother, who forbids him to play with Dexter.
You will need a whole box of Kleenex by the end of the movie. It is a celebration of life and friendship that you won't soon forget.