Friday, September 14, 2007

Les Témoins (The Witnesses)

The new André Téchiné movie proves that he remains one of the foremost storytellers of French life and human relationships in general with this haunting drama that was shown in competition in the 2007 Berlinale. The multilayered story is set in the 1980’s and focuses on the contrasts between illness and health, sex and romance, friendship and companionship and the face of the unpredictability of both life and humans who get to live to tell the tale.

Tells the story of Manu a young gay man, Julie an opera singer and Manu’s sister, Adrien an older gay doctor, Mehdi a policeman and Sarah a writer and Mehdi’s wife. As their lives intersect the story develops as life itself does, but in those days a new illness appeared around the world and France was no exception.

Even if you will witness the illness in this movie, the film is not about AIDS is about human beings trying to get on with life for however long it may last and if they are lucky, bear witness to the strength and complexity of the human spirit.

I have seen many American movies about AIDS, but none as simple, as natural, as life itself… as this French film, may very first French movie with this theme involved. This is not a sad movie or a dramatization of events with theatrical and melodramatic characters. This is a common movie, with common characters and a common life. But it is very touching and it will touch you seriously and deeply with NO tears involved.

Emmanuelle Béart plays Sarah, Julie Depardieu plays Julie, Michel Blanc plays Adrien, Sami Bouajila plays Melhdi and Johan Libéreau plays Manu. The ensemble cast has very good performances as ordinary people and when one gets sick, you can feel the despair and sorrow.

Perhaps is the best AIDS related movie I have ever seen and one not to avoid as “another AIDS” movie. This is not a movie for all audiences; you have to like art films and French cinema.

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