The Witnesses (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/10/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

For the most part, The Witnesses is an engaging drama with superb performances, but it's slightly let down by an anti-climactic ending.

What's it all about?
Emmanuelle Beart plays Sarah, a struggling author who's just had her first child and is having difficulties adjusting - at one point a friend discovers the baby crying downstairs while she wrestles with writer's block with ear-muffs on upstairs. Her husband, Mehdi (Sami Bouajila) is a no-nonsense cop, intent on cleaning up the red-light districts.

Meanwhile, Sarah's friend Adrien (Michel Blanc) falls for cocky young hustler Manu (Johan Liberau), a young man he met while cruising in a park. However, when Adrien takes Manu to Sarah's beach house for the weekend, Manu falls for Mehdi and the two embark on an illicit affair that comes to an abrupt halt when Manu contracts a mysterious disease.

The Good
Directed by Andrew Techine, this is an enjoyable, oddly old-fashioned French drama, from its blocky, bright red opening credits to its 1980s setting and subject matter. The first half of the film is extremely strong – the performances are good (particularly Bouajila, who has the most complex role), the characters are well drawn and the story is interesting.

The Bad
However, once Manu contracts what the film refers to as the virus, the film becomes a little anti-climactic, copping out of dramatic confrontations (for example, Sarah doesn't seem remotely shocked that Mehdi swings both ways) and blocking off expected plot twists. That said, this is still preferable to disease-of-the-week style Hollywood melodramatics and any film where Emmanuelle Beart repeatedly takes her clothes off can't be all bad.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Witnesses is worth seeing for its strong performances and engaging direction but it's hard not to feel short-changed on the emotional front by the end.

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Content updated: 19/07/2018 00:35

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