The Witnesses (2007) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Witnesses (2007)



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

Movie Info

Manu is 20 years old when he arrives in Paris to look for a job. Initially, he moves in with his sister, Julie, who rents a room in a sleazy hotel. Her life revolves around music. She is training to be an opera singer and tries hard to partition herself off from her ebullient brother. Manu is a night bird. One night he meets Adrien, an extrovert and cultivated gay doctor in his early 50s with whom he strikes up a carefree, platonic friendship. Adrien soon introduces Manu to his circle of friends. Adrien takes Manu for a boat trip on the Mediterranean with a young married couple: Mehdi, who is a cop, and Sarah, a writer. The recent birth of their first child seems only to have made this unconventional couple even happier together, but appearances are deceptive. For Mehdi, the zealous police inspector, paternity has magnified his tyrannical side and this leads to excessive behavior both at work and in his sex-life. Meanwhile, Sarah is unable to come to terms with being a mother, feeling that it encroaches on her identity as a woman. Unable to bond with her baby, she immerses herself in her writing in a desperate quest for inspiration. Manu's arrival in Paris and his intrusion into Julie, Adrien, Mehdi and Sarah's lives creates shockwaves in all their relationships. Unintentionally and unknowingly, Manu forces them confront their true desires.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Viviane Zingg, Andre Techine, Laurent Guyot
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 24, 2008
Strand Releasing

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Oscar Aima
as Baby 2
Jacques Nolot
as Hotel Manager
Alain Cauchi
as Chief of Police
David Barbas
as Mehdi's Colleague
Xavier Beauvois
as Sarah's Publisher
Satya Dusaugey
as Young Man in Park
Raphaëline Goupillea...
as Manu and Julie's Mot...
Jean-Marie Besset
as Operating Theatre As...
Maïa Simon
as Sarah's Mother
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Witnesses

Critic Reviews for The Witnesses

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (17)

Excitingly convoluted.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 16, 2008
New York Post
Top 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.

Full Review… | May 16, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top 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.

Full Review… | March 13, 2008
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top 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.

Full Review… | March 13, 2008
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Witnesses


Poignant, sensitive drama with well developed characters realistically played by the cast.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Functional but well performed recollection of the AIDS epidemic and its fallout amongst a group of unlikable bourgeoisie.

Gordon Anderson

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]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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