Movie – The Witnesses

SYNOPSIS

A gorgeous young man from the French countryside, eager to begin a gay life of experience and adventure, is the catalyst for a series of life-changing events and passionate affairs within a clique of longtime friends.

REVIEW
André Téchiné (Wild Reeds) has directed his strongest, most dramatically compelling work yet, which sees a set of characters bear witness to the start of the AIDS crisis and become part of the war that it entails. One evening in 1984 Paris, fiftysomething gay doctor, Adrien (Michel Blanc), cruises the park and picks up a stunningly cute teenager, Manu (Cold Showers‘ Johan Libereau). Adrien’s impulse is sexual, but hoping for something deeper, he restrains himself and begins a platonic courtship. Adrien introduces the provincial lad to his close friends, Sarah (Emmanuelle Béart) and Mehdi, (The Adventures of Felix‘s Sami Bouajila), a writer and police inspector who recently became new parents, and the quartet vacation together on the French Riviera. During a swim, Manu almost drowns, prompting Mehdi to deliver mouth-to-mouth – an act that inspires an awakening in the latter. They begin a secret, intensely sexual affair, while Sarah endures her own personal crisis: she’s a new mother who, deep down, hates children. Adrien learns of Manu and Medhi’s hijinks and his jealousy inspires rage, but everything changes within the circle of friends when a strange and deadly new illness rears its head.

Broken into three chapters with the summery, sexy start giving way to a terse dramatic middle before culminating in a heartbreaking yet hopeful close, The Witnesses is as profound and complex as it is expertly acted (Libereau will break your heart!). Techiné’s latest is a masterwork of sexualities, emotions, relationships, honesty and life during a wartime that endures today. (French with English subtitles)

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