Claire (Kate Jackson) and Zack (Michael Ontkean) have been married for eight years. She is a TV executive, and he's a doctor. They share a consuming passion for the music of Gilbert & Sullivan, are sexually faithful to each other, and have just bought a dream house. But something is eating away inside Zach.
When Bart (Harry Hamlin) comes to his office, the two seem to connect. Bart thinks the lump on his neck is a tumor; it turns out to be an ingrown hair. Doctor and patient go out for lunch. Weeks later, they have dinner and end up at Bart's house. Zack's curiosity is quenched when they make love.
There have been quite a number of terrible movies about gay persons. Two made-for-television moves, "That Certain Summer" and "A Question of Love," handled the subject with maturity and taste. But it's been over 10 years since a feature film, Sunday, Bloody, Sunday, gave us a rounded view of a gay relationship. Making Love with a screenplay by Barry Sandler deals honestly with both homosexuality and one woman's loss.
Through the technique of on-screen interviews with Claire and Bart, we gain access to their feelings, attitudes, and dreams. This is helpful since viewers will probably come to the film with questions: Do gay men want long-term relationships with a single partner or do they prefer to live without commitments? Is their view of love romantic or cynical? While the screenplay writer obviously doesn't intend Bart and Zach to be regarded as representative of all gays, he does want viewers to understand their perceptions and, in the process, to gain a new appreciation for the nuances of love.
Harry Hamlin's Bart is a talented writer who worries about his health, treasures his independence, and shies away from longer term relationships with anyone. His brief affair with Zach forces him to prioritize his needs.
Michael Ontkean's Zach is a relatively self-confident man who must finally face up to his true nature and sexual preference. He has no interest a transitory relationship with Bart even though their mutual interest in imagination initially provides a deep bond.
Kate Jackson's Claire is a strong woman who, watching her marriage fall apart, knows that there is nothing she can do to save it. Her moving performance ought to resonate with all those who have experienced such a loss. She bears a double burden when Zach tells her: "You've got to let go for both of us."
Making Love concludes that there isn't a distinctive set of values about relationships unique to the gay world. There is love and loss, independence and renewal in both homosexual and heterosexual realms. Although some may quibble about the tidy ending which leaves the three characters happy and hopeful, others will find this finale perfectly suited to the story's basic philosophy of different strokes for different folks.