The Witnesses (2007) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Paris, 1984: A group of friends contend with the first outbreak of the AIDS epidemic.

  • June 1984 to June 1985, from happy days to war to summer's return. A middle-aged doctor in Paris, Adrien, meets Manu, a young gay man from the provinces who lives with his sister, an opera singer. Adrien likes Manu, loves him even, in a Platonic relationship. Sarah, a writer, and Mehdi, a vice-squad cop, have an infant. Sarah discovers she has no taste for parenthood. Adrien bring Manu to Sarah's country cabin where Mehdi saves Manu from drowning. Back in Paris, an affair begins as a plague descends on Parisian gays. There are tests, illness, anger, relief, separations, and death. A year later, these friends meet again at the summer place. They are witnesses to how happiness has changed.

  • Handsome provincial gay adolescent Manu moves to Paris, where his opera-singer sibling welcomes him, and leads a careless, profitable life of lust 'behind the bushes'. Picked up by old doctor Adrien, he enjoys being shown the finer sides of Parisian life but refuses a romantic commitment. On a sea holiday with common friends, Manu is saved from drowning by Mehdi, a Magrhebinian Paris vice detective, whose open marriage is under strain because his wife neglects their baby. That kiss of life is the start of a passionate but secret affair. Manu breaks it off and first takes a menial job in a camping. Manu moves in with Adrien, who is part of France's medical AIDS help pioneer society, after being diagnosed sero-positive.


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  • This story covers the overlapping stories of a group of French Parisiens who discover the reality of the Aids epidemic through their complex relations with a young man; Manu. The story unfolds through the complex interactions arranged as scenes as they interact with the character Manu as Sister, Lover, Friend, confidante and even rival as their already difficult relationships become crystallised by his premature diagnosis and inevitably demise. Each character has their life priorities questioned and they are forced into re-evaluation of the very basic tenets to which they had hitherto held self evident. The Doctor calls Manu his "Eros" and this self deprecating and lonely man is infused with vicarious energy at the simple prescence of this charasmatic individual who with devastating simplicity wins over the cynical underworld of sexplotation and their even harder protagonists in the shape of the Chief of Police. He is inviolate,kind, demonstrative and unafraid and takes joy in the simple pleasures of life until he must deal with the horror of his prognosis. Numerous sub stories link the individual struggles of characters to exist, to create, to advance their careers and even to crusade with Manu the keystone enabling these stories to provide context for this thoughtful retrospective of the reality of the mindset at the beginning of this "war" against AIDS.

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