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The Witnesses (Les Temoins) (2007)



Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 50
Fresh: 43 | Rotten: 7

French director André Téchiné successfully weaves five gripping stories in an engaging and realistic film about the early days of the AIDS epidemic.


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 2

French director André Téchiné successfully weaves five gripping stories in an engaging and realistic film about the early days of the AIDS epidemic.



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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 2,031

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Movie Info

The early days of the AIDS crisis in France provides the backdrop for this powerful, life-affirming drama from writer and director André Téchiné. It's 1984, and Mehdi (Sami Bouajila) is a police detective who, unbeknownst to his wife Sarah (Emmanuelle Béart), is a bisexual who has occasional trysts with men. Mehdi and Sarah are proud parents of a new baby, but to Mehdi's chagrin, Sarah doesn't seem the least bit concerned about her responsibilities as a mom. Manu (Johan Libereau) is a handsome

Jun 24, 2008

Strand Releasing

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All Critics (53) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (7) | DVD (1)

Excitingly convoluted.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Techine's graceful, forceful drama has the tact not to play narrative games with its subject.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

André Téchiné's film features a strong ensemble cast. The film pulls no punches in its depiction of lives in crisis.

July 16, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Witnesses doesn't pay off with a great operatic pinnacle, but it's better that way. Better to show people we care about facing facts they care desperately about, without the consolation of plot mechanics.

May 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director Andre Techine's story is one of subtle emotional tones that require the most of an actor, and the cast is uniformly compelling.

March 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In The Witnesses, [director] Techine levels his gaze on the '80s, an era of seeming innocence, perhaps license, and one in which biological freedom has led to a loose, even sloppily knit fabric of humanity.

March 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Witnesses has an emotional maturity that adds richness to its social observation.

April 28, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Best when it turns from bed-hopping into a docudrama, but its effort to personalize the AIDS crisis is not emotionally convincing as the characters lose their individuality.

December 14, 2008 Full Review Source:

Téchiné films Johan Libéreau, who plays Manu, the fresh-faced young boy coming of age in The Witnesses, with the sort of discretion that gives mystery and dignity to human beauty.

November 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A somber look back, and for Americans, a view from somewhere else of a time that might have been just recently forgotten.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Entertainment Insiders
Entertainment Insiders

Lots of gab, a little flesh flashing, more gab, and not much action or momentum. French Kissing, Brokeback Mountain style.

June 21, 2008 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

The first 80 minutes or so are really good, but then the movie goes on for about a half hour longer than it needs to.

June 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Sin Magazine
Sin Magazine

A welcome addition to a legion of AIDS related movies and the French perspective, so different from our own, never fails to intrigue

May 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Windy City Times
Windy City Times

As in real life, often the main crisis morphs into a continuance that has no slam-bang conclusion. Rather, we just see a small hope that awakes to experience another sunrise.

May 19, 2008 Full Review Source:

A rambling but often affecting account of the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

April 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

Unyieldingly pleasant and way too fussy for its own good... so sunny and polite it makes Rent look like Cruising.

March 17, 2008 Full Review
Philadelphia Weekly

It becomes a movie about figuring out how to live a full life, and The Witnesses is necessarily a bittersweet one, since so many people who came of age in the '80s never had a chance.

March 14, 2008 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

The explosion of AIDS is the film's sobering heart, but the manner in which it affects those who witness it makes the story universal and, through each person's small, life-affirming reactions, hopeful.

March 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Let's Not Listen
Let's Not Listen

Andre Techine is a master at taking life experiences and stripping them of sentimentality, leaving us with only the bare-bones honesty of relationships and desire.

March 3, 2008 Full Review Source:

André Téchiné is a master at taking life experiences and stripping them of sentimentality, leaving us with only the bare-bones honesty of relationships and desire.

March 3, 2008 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Witnesses (Les Temoins)

Poignant, sensitive drama with well developed characters realistically played by the cast.
February 3, 2011
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Functional but well performed recollection of the AIDS epidemic and its fallout amongst a group of unlikable bourgeoisie.
May 23, 2008
Gordon A

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]In "The Witnesses," it is 1984 and Sarah(Emmanuelle Beart), a children's writer, is married to Mehdi(Sami Bouajila), a macho and ambitious vice cop. Not being able to concentrate with her baby crying all the time, Sarah persuades her husband to take some time off, so they can go to her summer house, inviting her friend and doctor, Adrien(Michel Blanc), who brings along Manu(Johan Libereau), a young man who he met while cruising in the park one night. During that weekend, Mehdi saves Manu from drowning and the two men become friends...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]It goes without saying that there has been better fiction written about the early days of the AIDS epidemic including "Longtime Companion" and the play, "Angels in America," which were made at the end of the initial crisis, signaling the beginning of the long battle ahead. Coming at least a decade after them, "The Witnesses" is an astute but slightly overlong movie that is a reminder of how far we have come since then, arguing for love and compassion in the process. But what also sets it apart, is its eroticism, not shying away from the sexual side of the equation which even the more chaste characters have no problem with.[/font]
March 16, 2008
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

An unusual but refreshingly straightforward film that sensitively shows how the beginning of the AIDS epidemic affects a group of connected friends. Beautifully filmed, the screenplay keeps things relatively pared back and serves the actors well - the power and intensity comes from the terrific performances instead of artificial melodrama. An intelligent and adult film.
June 12, 2010

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Wir waren Zeugen (DE)
  • The Witnesses (UK)
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