Les Witnesses (Les Temoins)
(André Téchiné, France, 2006) 115min
This article is from 2007.
French director Andre Téchiné (Strayed, Alice et Martin) returns with this urgent and compelling relationship drama, which is terrifically acted by its ensemble cast. Split into three parts, and beginning in Paris during the summer of 1984, it swiftly evokes an era of sexual freedom, openness and experimentation.
New parents Mehdi (Sami Bouajila), a police lieutenant, and his novelist wife Sara (Emmanuelle Béart) are friends with 50something doctor Adrien (Michel Blanc) who’s besotted with a young man Manu (Johann Libereau). The latter, to Adrien’s fury, begins an affair with Mehdi, only to discover that he is a victim of the AIDS epidemic.
Dynamically shot by the cinematographer Julien Hirsch (who photographed the forthcoming Lady Chatterley), with water a key visual motif, The Witnesses boldly refuses to define its characters solely by their sexual orientations, and nor does it judge their unpredictable actions. Exploring the deep impact Manu makes on the lives and feelings of those he encounters, this is light-years away from the platitudes of Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and it bristles with genuine emotional intensity. (Tom Dawson)
Filmhouse, 623 8030, 18 Aug, 7pm, £7.95 (£5.50). Cineworld, 623 8030, 22 Aug, 6.45pm, £7.95 (£5.50).