A Dimly Lit View into the Dark Life of a Dying Poet
'Un Ano sin amor' (A Year Without Love) is a brave little Argentine film by young Buenos Aires director Anahi Berneri, a film that takes a different look at people with AIDS in the era of 1996 when the AIDS cocktail was just becoming a beacon of hope suggesting that afflicted people could survive. Though some may avoid the film because of content and the world of Sadomasochism it depicts, this little low budget movie has a lot to say in a very simple fashion and deserves the attention of caring viewers.
Pablo Perez (the very fine actor Juan Minujin) is a young magazine writer/ French teacher/ poet living with AIDS (he has returned form Paris where he had been living with his lover who died of AIDS). Pablo lives with his aunt in a poor apartment supported by his distant father, and while he knows he has a disease that dooms his future, he tries to continue his life day by day with no major plans. He attempts to have a social life by advertising on the Internet for dating, but because he includes the information in his ad that he is HIV positive, he gets negligible response. When his symptoms increase and he is burdened with a constant cough and respiratory problems he visits his doctor who recommends hospitalization. Pablo does not trust the 'new meds' and refuses AZT etc. He walks the streets seeking anonymous encounters with men to satisfy his longing for physical connection and resorts to joining a sadomasochism group where he meets men who are willing to interact only on a physical level. In his loneliness he turns to his friend with the idea of publishing his diary about a man living with AIDS, yet when the book is published the results only serve to alienate his family further and he is left with nothing in a life of loneliness.
Berneri has filmed this story in the gritty reality of the hand held camera and is unafraid to show the dark side of Buenos Aires' underbelly of sadomasochism, yet he retains a degree of allowing us to 'get the idea' without dwelling on any of the activities. Juan Minujin is completely believable as Pablo and the other cast members serve their roles well, allowing us to see the people rather than the behaviors. This may be a tough little film for some but for those who appreciate cinema verite it is a fine work of art. Grady Harp
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