The Witnesses review

French writer/director André Téchiné offers a lively, timely flashback to the early days of AIDS with this character-driven drama. Paris, summer ’84: living with his sister in a run-down hotel, the gay Manu (Johan Libéreau) shares a happy but celibate relationship with middle-aged doctor Adrien (Michel Blanc). The latter introduces Manu to children’s author Sarah (Emmanuelle Béart), who’s enjoying an open relationship with her cop husband Mehdi (Sami Bouajila). But then an unforeseen affair brings the harrowing spectre of HIV into all their lives… Téchiné moves things along at a whipcrack pace until the third act, where he’s unsure if he wants a social-issue pic or a melodrama. Quality performances, though, especially from Bouajila.

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