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A Year Without Love (Unrated)

Release Date: February 10th, 2006 (Quad Cinema) by Strand Releasing.
The Cast: Juan Minujín, Mimí Ardú, Javier Van de Couter, Osmar Núñez, Javier Van de Couter Directed by Anahi Berneri.
In Spanish with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: In 1996, Pablo (Minujín), a young gay, HIV-positive writer, searches for love in all the wrong places.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: In the beginning of the film, Pablo types away at his computer, which is where he keeps his diary. Early on, you learn that he has HIV and sees a doctor once in a while to check on his improvement. He also lives in a small apartment with his Aunt (Ardú). To add some excitement to his life, he searches for love but ends up in porn theaters and in S&M relationships. Most of the S&M scenes seem too disgusting, redundant, and in-your-face. Pablo never feels like a likeable or realistic character that you could get to know. Instead, he comes across as dull, stereotypical, and one-dimensional. Writer/director Anahi Berneri simply lacks subtly both in the way she handles the thin plot and shows what Pablo goes through. It’s easy to predict most of what happens and, when it does happen, it doesn’t seem all that interesting. For example, Pablo has a dysfunctional relationship with his father, but, a moment of conflict between father and son in the predictable third act happens too briefly to even be memorable. It would have been much more interesting if he had a good friend to interact with rather than be a stereotypical loner. On a positive note, the cinematography does include a few well-shot close-ups, but not enough to hold your interest.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Overall, A Year Without Love will leave you in a depressed state of mind. The dark premise alone feels too dark, especially given that Pablo initially looks for love . There’s nothing to think about because everything is already spelled out for you onscreen. The lifestyle of someone with HIV certainly doesn’t look easy at all on a physical level, but this film fails to realistically or intriguingly explore the psychological suffering.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Predictable, thin plot with a boring central character.


IN A NUTSHELL: Ocassionally well-shot, but goes too much for simple, in-your-face plot rather than exploring the lifestyle of an HIV individual with more subtly, grace and insight.


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