The Witnesses

Director: André Téchiné
Year Released: 2007
Rating: 3.0

Efficient story about the 'discovery' of the AIDS crisis in the world, though it is more than about 'just' AIDS - it's really about honesty and both physical and emotional vulnerability. When a young hustler (Johan Libéreau, supremely extroverted) discovers he's HIV positive, his physical decline from vibrant, carefree, sexually amorous individual to tragic victim affects the lives of his sister, a doctor who cares for him, his married lover and that married lover's wife. The ho-hum Freudian aspects (father love, sexual repression) are offset by the power of the performances, particularly Sami Bouajila as a police officer who actively hunts down homosexuals and prostitutes and Michel Blanc as the doctor who disguises his lust with concern: their intensity masks the screenplay's occasional clumsiness. In the Age of Terrorism I almost get the impression (and maybe it's just me) that AIDS has been 'moved aside' though stories about it pop up every so often - this picture (and Jacques Nolot's Before I Forget) reminds us that it's still active, that it's still a massive problem and makes the argument (perhaps indirectly) that if prostitution were regulated instead of forcing it to go underground the spread might be better controlled.